The study, conducted by The Economist Group content solutions in association with comms firm Peppercomm and its partner Flagship Consulting, spoke to 500 global business executives and 500 marketers about their perceptions of content marketing.
It found that business executives are turned off by overt marketing messages, yet 93 per cent of marketers tie content to a product or service.
Rather than treating content like a sales pitch, 67 per cent of executives said that content with a timely or unique angle improved their perception of the brand.
Content solutions MD at The Economist Group, Elena Sukacheva, said: "Business executives are looking for context and perspective to help them do their jobs better. Brands that can help provide it will become trusted advisers, but to do so they have to put the reader first."
The findings show that executives prefer traditional forms of content, with 85 per cent favouring text over video or audio, and only seven per cent using smartphones to access content on a regular basis.
Mark Pinnes, deputy managing director of Flagship said: "Brands have a credible and authoritative voice of their own. By providing valuable content for free, they can start to generate a trust relationship. Building trust is the equivalent of ‘brand equity’ for the multi-channel marketing age."