Research Shows that Audiences Trust Premium Publishers Over Social Networks for Online News Content

Amid stories about the proliferation of fake news and propaganda on social platforms, there is more attention than ever before on the veracity and accuracy of news and where it is sourced. Today, we’re releasing survey results that reveal that premium publishers, such The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time and CNN have maintained consumer trust in the face of these issues, giving them some of the strongest brands in the country.

The survey indicates that readers distrust and fail to engage with editorial content on Facebook and Twitter, despite more time spent with social platforms than premium publishers. This is good news to U.S. based premium news publishers, many of which have found themselves facing increased pressure to compete with these social networks for ad spend. Perhaps more importantly, it should serve as notice for brands that content and context matter in advertising, as much or even more than pure audience reach.

The survey – completed in September 2017 using Qualtrics and sampling 1,052 U.S. residents between the ages of 18 and 50 – found that premium publishers are trusted far ahead of social networks to deliver news: 65% of respondents said they trusted Time, with CNN (60%), Wall Street Journal (59%) and the New York Times (59%) also scoring particularly high marks for trust.

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In comparison, less than half (41%) of U.S. respondents said they trust articles shared on Facebook, while 33% said they trusted Twitter. Social networks were more openly distrusted, as well. Twice as many respondents in the U.S. said that they didn’t trust Facebook as said they didn’t trust The New York Times (27% compared to 14%).

This distrust comes even as social platforms exceed premium publishers in terms of time spent. More than two-thirds (69%) of people surveyed said they checked Facebook at least weekly, showing more active engagement than CNN and Fox News, the two premium publishers with the highest engagement rates. When users visit Facebook, they are spending substantial time there – 39% spend more than 30 minutes, compared to just 17% who spend that same amount on The New York Times.

As advertisers determine how to divide and where to invest their future ad budgets, they need to remember that independent, premium publishers offer a unique experience that social networks can’t compete with when it comes to reaching active and engaged consumers. Many advertisers know that whether a consumer sees an ad and what they see are important factors, but where they see the ad is just as important in campaign success. As these survey results show, premium publishers provide something of a brand halo effect. This aligns with other industry research, including a collaborative neuro-mapping study from Teads and Neuro-Insight that showed that premium editorial content has a 19% greater impact on memory than Facebook. Advertisers need to take notice of this trend, and keep balancing their ad spend on social networks with their ad spend on publishers across the open-web.

To read the full release, click here. Download the full report here