Social media and blogs have considerably changed the media landscape for brands, but it may not have transformed as wildly as it seems, a new study from Nielsen shows
The study found that articles written by third-party experts—journalists and professional reviewers—generally still have more of an effect on consumers’ familiarity with brands, their affinity for them, and their decisions to buy than user reviews or branded content. That goes for products as cheap as electric toothbrushes up to items as expensive as cars.
About 67 percent of consumers surveyed said an endorsement from an unbiased expert made them more likely to consider buying a product.
The study report states that there are two key reasons that so-called “expert” content had more of an impact: Branded content is perceived as too partial, and user reviews aren’t as informative.
The report’s recommendations section states, “Advertisers may want to consider increasing the exposure to expert content to build greater trust while also supplementing with branded content and users reviews to build familiarity and influence opinions about the product.”
Peyman Nilforoush, CEO and co-founder of inPowered, the brand-message-amplification company that commissioned the study, says the type of content brands use isn’t “an either/or proposition,” but brands can’t expect readers to trust their branded content, even if it’s in the form of brand journalism, right away.
InPowered’s head of communications, Robb Henshaw, adds, “No matter how good the quality of your content is on your branded channels, if people don’t have that foundation of trust in your brand, it’s likely going to fall on deaf ears.”
That means establishing a reputation through getting traditional press first, then building up branded content channels, such as blogs and news sites. With that in mind, Nilforoush says that the people responsible for bringing a brand’s story to the press should have some control over content marketing, too.
“If you want to have a continued brand story, clearly communications and PR need to have a strategic seat at the table,” he says. “You want it to be a cohesive story.”