Study: Consumers prefer credible, third-party content over branded content

Third-party content written by independent sources still has a greater effect on consumers deciding whether to purchase a product or service than branded content, according to a study from inPowered.

SAN FRANCISCO: Consumers rely on credible, third-party content more than branded media or user reviews when making purchasing decisions, according to a study from inPowered, a content marketing company.

The findings indicated that the credibility and unbiased nature of content is critical for consumers, with 85% regularly or occasionally seeking out trusted expert content with third-party articles and reviews when considering a purchase.

The results show the strategic value of the coverage that communications professionals are responsible for securing, said Peyman Nilforoush, co-founder and CEO of inPowered.

"I think right now there is a lot of conversation about who should own content marketing and native advertising. PR pros should own it because they are out there generating the trusted content and third-party coverage people are looking for, and they are responsible for establishing that baseline foundation of trust," he said. "[PR pros] know the story that needs to be told for the branded content to continue the conversation and continue to educate and nurture potential customers."

The study found that 69% of consumers like to read product reviews written by trusted experts before buying a product, while 67% agree that an endorsement from an unbiased expert makes them more likely to consider a purchase.

Overall, the research showed that expert content, such as articles from credible journalists, was the only type of content to show a strong lift in the three main areas of the purchase cycle: brand familiarity, brand affinity, and purchase intent. On average, expert content lifted brand familiarity 88% more than branded content and 50% more than user reviews. It also boosted brand affinity 50% more than branded content, and 20% more than user reviews, while it increased purchase intent 38% more than branded content and 83% more than user reviews.

Nielsen conducted the study starting late last year running through February. It exposed 900 consumers to three different types of content – credible, third-party articles, and reviews; owned content produced by a brand; and user-generated content such as reviews on Amazon.com.

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