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Ideas

Who Can You Trust?

Who Can You Trust?

Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

October 16, 2019

Havas Media Group and the WSJ | Barron’s Group’s “Trust in News” study looks at marketers and the public’s relationship with the news media in an age of disinformation.

"Until social and digital news platforms re-establish their transparency, integrity, and reliability as trusted sources of news, they’ll continue to present a risk"

The credibility of news media has never been more scrutinized, which can make it tough for brands to know where their campaigns will perform best and thrive.

This reality inspired Havas Media Group to join forces with The Wall Street Journal | Barron’s Group to explore what drives an audience’s trust in news media and to pinpoint where brands can have the biggest impact.

The study polled more than 5,500 news consumers (ranging in age, gender, and sociopolitical points of view) in 11 countries to achieve an accurate snapshot of the trust people place in the news in 2019.

Key Findings

  • About a half (46%) of respondents say a key element of their trust in a news organization is based on a trustworthy past. 
  • Eighty percent of respondents trust high-quality news organizations’ content on their “owned channels,” but this drops to 57% when that same content appears on an organization’s social platforms.
  • Sixty percent of respondents trust ads that run in print media the most, compared to 58% who trust ads that run on television and 49% who trust ads that are published on a digital platform.

Greg James, Global Chief Strategy Officer, and Ellen Zaleski, Managing Director of Global Insights, chat about navigating through a rocky media landscape and the future of news and advertising.

 

What was the motivation behind this study and why are its results important for marketers?

News has always been sensitive for advertisers. Historically, TV news could be difficult if, for example, a presenter is embroiled in some scandal or, in digital media, advertisers need to ensure they don’t show up in difficult news contexts alongside inappropriate content. 

Now, with fake news stories gaining ground and attention, some clients shield themselves even further away while others capitalize on the news that’s attracting growing audiences. Knowing which way to turn is difficult and it’s our job as an agency to advise clients on how to navigate the media landscape. 

The Wall Street Journal is one of the most recognizable names in news and, as one of our global media partners, they face similar issues where they have to let advertisers know their ads are appearing in safe environments.

So we began a conversation with The Wall Street Journal | Barron’s Group to investigate decision-making for consumers and business leaders in news. Through this work, we sought to understand trust in news and the power of news as an advertising platform so that we could better advise our clients moving forward.

The global study polled news consumers across all generations, genders, and sociopolitical backgrounds; why do you think they had similar ideas about what makes news media trustworthy?

The study explored the nature of “trust” for over 5,500 consumers across the world, which gave us a good cross section of opinions. While there are certainly more divided opinions in the world today, I guess one of the learnings was that while the types of news, or responses to news, are individual, the nature of how news works is something people share a view on.

Our first key finding was that trust is built on three key attributes: transparency, integrity, and reliability.  

Trust is universal and needed across all societies for them to function. Everyone agreed that wherever they get their news, the source needs to be transparent. When you think about issues with truly “fake news” (for instance, poor-quality viral Facebook stories), it’s clear that there are shadowy practices there. The challenge is how do we as consumers KNOW when sources are not being transparent?

"Everyone agreed that wherever they get their news, the source needs to be transparent"

The study found that people trust news content on television more than the same content on the news organization’s social media platforms. Was this surprising?

I don’t think it was surprising. A lot of the work we have already done on Meaningful Media in the last 12 months tells us that context is important, so it kind of stands to reason that if I see an article by visiting NYTimes.com vs. the same article on Facebook, I’m going to trust the original more. It feels purer because I purposely visited a trusted news site, not an environment cluttered by a mix of questionable and quality content. Context truly is important. 

Eighty percent of people we surveyed said they were more likely to trust content on a news organization’s “owned channels” than on its social media. This finding was consistent across the globe.  

In an age when many people access their news through apps and social media, why do you think there is still such a gap between the trust placed in print and TV and the trust placed in social and digital?

Heritage is important in news, so organizations in television, print, or radio are naturally more trusted because they have this legacy audiences recognize. 

The inherent production values and effort of generating news in these places seem to give it more weight as the procedures to create this news indicate quality. With social and digital, content of all kinds can be more transient or fleeting, so it’s harder to build trust there.  

While consumers are still using social apps or digital versions of print/subscription video on demand (SVOD), these sources are less likely to be trusted until the fake news controversies have been resolved. Unfortunately, newer media platforms suffer from more frequent scandals, which dents trust. 

You delved into how people’s sociopolitical viewpoints impact their trust in news media. Can you tell us a little bit about this?

This is really interesting. At the start, we wanted to investigate if left-leaning or right-leaning news organizations were more likely to be trusted around the globe. We also wanted to investigate the hypothesis that news organizations that resembled a person’s own sociopolitical stance would be inherently more trusted than those that didn’t. In other words, someone leaning left would inherently trust news from an organization that was favoring the left in their news coverage, and vice versa.

We found that left or right leanings of news organizations did not de facto guarantee that a person will trust the organization (even if it aligns with their view). In fact, the least-biased news organizations are most trusted regardless of sociopolitical view. For example, you could be extremely right wing, but when it comes to trust, you are STILL more likely to trust an unbiased news organization than an extremely right-wing one. I think this is kind of good news in a cynical world.

From a brand perspective, how will this research guide marketers to choose the correct platforms for their campaigns?

With the agency, we’ve rebuilt our system around Mx – Media Experience – to factor in connection, context, and content in each media decision, and this research is further evidence that we’re right about this perspective. Our research tells us that context is important; it has this halo effect that tells marketers that their advertising is more effective in a safer place. Sadly, there are never black and white, right or wrong answers, particularly in news! But the research has helped us to guide decision-making with clients. 

This study captured people’s definition of trust in 2019’s rocky news landscape. Do you envision this evolving and changing throughout the next decade?

No one would have predicted the level and scale of fake news over the past year – almost no country has been left unscathed. However, until social and digital news platforms re-establish their transparency, integrity, and reliability as trusted sources of news, they’ll continue to present a risk and challenge for brands and news organizations alike. Our job as agencies and experts for our clients is to act as great guides. The world gets more complex every day, which makes it exciting to be in the industry right now but, of course, also keeps us busy! 

"Until social and digital news platforms re-establish their transparency, integrity, and reliability as trusted sources of news, they’ll continue to present a risk"

The credibility of news media has never been more scrutinized, which can make it tough for brands to know where their campaigns will perform best and thrive.

This reality inspired Havas Media Group to join forces with The Wall Street Journal | Barron’s Group to explore what drives an audience’s trust in news media and to pinpoint where brands can have the biggest impact.

The study polled more than 5,500 news consumers (ranging in age, gender, and sociopolitical points of view) in 11 countries to achieve an accurate snapshot of the trust people place in the news in 2019.

Key Findings

  • About a half (46%) of respondents say a key element of their trust in a news organization is based on a trustworthy past. 
  • Eighty percent of respondents trust high-quality news organizations’ content on their “owned channels,” but this drops to 57% when that same content appears on an organization’s social platforms.
  • Sixty percent of respondents trust ads that run in print media the most, compared to 58% who trust ads that run on television and 49% who trust ads that are published on a digital platform.

Greg James, Global Chief Strategy Officer, and Ellen Zaleski, Managing Director of Global Insights, chat about navigating through a rocky media landscape and the future of news and advertising.

 

What was the motivation behind this study and why are its results important for marketers?

News has always been sensitive for advertisers. Historically, TV news could be difficult if, for example, a presenter is embroiled in some scandal or, in digital media, advertisers need to ensure they don’t show up in difficult news contexts alongside inappropriate content. 

Now, with fake news stories gaining ground and attention, some clients shield themselves even further away while others capitalize on the news that’s attracting growing audiences. Knowing which way to turn is difficult and it’s our job as an agency to advise clients on how to navigate the media landscape. 

The Wall Street Journal is one of the most recognizable names in news and, as one of our global media partners, they face similar issues where they have to let advertisers know their ads are appearing in safe environments.

So we began a conversation with The Wall Street Journal | Barron’s Group to investigate decision-making for consumers and business leaders in news. Through this work, we sought to understand trust in news and the power of news as an advertising platform so that we could better advise our clients moving forward.

The global study polled news consumers across all generations, genders, and sociopolitical backgrounds; why do you think they had similar ideas about what makes news media trustworthy?

The study explored the nature of “trust” for over 5,500 consumers across the world, which gave us a good cross section of opinions. While there are certainly more divided opinions in the world today, I guess one of the learnings was that while the types of news, or responses to news, are individual, the nature of how news works is something people share a view on.

Our first key finding was that trust is built on three key attributes: transparency, integrity, and reliability.  

Trust is universal and needed across all societies for them to function. Everyone agreed that wherever they get their news, the source needs to be transparent. When you think about issues with truly “fake news” (for instance, poor-quality viral Facebook stories), it’s clear that there are shadowy practices there. The challenge is how do we as consumers KNOW when sources are not being transparent?

"Everyone agreed that wherever they get their news, the source needs to be transparent"

The study found that people trust news content on television more than the same content on the news organization’s social media platforms. Was this surprising?

I don’t think it was surprising. A lot of the work we have already done on Meaningful Media in the last 12 months tells us that context is important, so it kind of stands to reason that if I see an article by visiting NYTimes.com vs. the same article on Facebook, I’m going to trust the original more. It feels purer because I purposely visited a trusted news site, not an environment cluttered by a mix of questionable and quality content. Context truly is important. 

Eighty percent of people we surveyed said they were more likely to trust content on a news organization’s “owned channels” than on its social media. This finding was consistent across the globe.  

In an age when many people access their news through apps and social media, why do you think there is still such a gap between the trust placed in print and TV and the trust placed in social and digital?

Heritage is important in news, so organizations in television, print, or radio are naturally more trusted because they have this legacy audiences recognize. 

The inherent production values and effort of generating news in these places seem to give it more weight as the procedures to create this news indicate quality. With social and digital, content of all kinds can be more transient or fleeting, so it’s harder to build trust there.  

While consumers are still using social apps or digital versions of print/subscription video on demand (SVOD), these sources are less likely to be trusted until the fake news controversies have been resolved. Unfortunately, newer media platforms suffer from more frequent scandals, which dents trust. 

You delved into how people’s sociopolitical viewpoints impact their trust in news media. Can you tell us a little bit about this?

This is really interesting. At the start, we wanted to investigate if left-leaning or right-leaning news organizations were more likely to be trusted around the globe. We also wanted to investigate the hypothesis that news organizations that resembled a person’s own sociopolitical stance would be inherently more trusted than those that didn’t. In other words, someone leaning left would inherently trust news from an organization that was favoring the left in their news coverage, and vice versa.

We found that left or right leanings of news organizations did not de facto guarantee that a person will trust the organization (even if it aligns with their view). In fact, the least-biased news organizations are most trusted regardless of sociopolitical view. For example, you could be extremely right wing, but when it comes to trust, you are STILL more likely to trust an unbiased news organization than an extremely right-wing one. I think this is kind of good news in a cynical world.

From a brand perspective, how will this research guide marketers to choose the correct platforms for their campaigns?

With the agency, we’ve rebuilt our system around Mx – Media Experience – to factor in connection, context, and content in each media decision, and this research is further evidence that we’re right about this perspective. Our research tells us that context is important; it has this halo effect that tells marketers that their advertising is more effective in a safer place. Sadly, there are never black and white, right or wrong answers, particularly in news! But the research has helped us to guide decision-making with clients. 

This study captured people’s definition of trust in 2019’s rocky news landscape. Do you envision this evolving and changing throughout the next decade?

No one would have predicted the level and scale of fake news over the past year – almost no country has been left unscathed. However, until social and digital news platforms re-establish their transparency, integrity, and reliability as trusted sources of news, they’ll continue to present a risk and challenge for brands and news organizations alike. Our job as agencies and experts for our clients is to act as great guides. The world gets more complex every day, which makes it exciting to be in the industry right now but, of course, also keeps us busy! 

Patricia Murphy is a content creator with a background in digital health and lifestyle journalism. She loves to chat and tell stories.

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