Edelman: Consumers trust brands as much as networks for content

Think consumers would rule out content from brands in favor of networks or digital platforms? Think again.

NEW YORK: When it comes to providing entertaining content, consumers trust brands they use and love as much as traditional broadcast and cable networks or online streaming video platforms, according to a study released by Edelman on Monday.

The firm’s ninth-annual entertainment survey, conducted online by Edelman Berland in August among 2,000 participants between 18 and 54 years old, found that three out of four people trust the brands they use to create entertaining content.

Seventy-four percent of respondents chose online streaming channels, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, while traditional networks such as ABC, NBC, and CBS clocked in at 73%. Cable networks came in fourth at 72%.

Gail Becker, president of strategic partnerships and global integration at Edelman and the study’s lead, said the fact that consumers see blurred lines in terms of who is developing entertainment "is giving brands the license to engage and be content creators."

"What people are saying is, ‘It doesn’t matter to me. Give me entertaining content. It can be from a traditional broadcast network, cable, online streaming, or the brand I buy and have a relationship with,’" explained Becker.

Asked if they would view branded content, 85% said they would watch content if it was created by a company or product they use regularly and trust. More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents said they’d watch video if it came from a streaming platform, and 64% said they’d view content from a news outlet such as BuzzFeed. 

The study also found that the vast majority (90%) of consumers will spend money on entertainment for personal enjoyment, 70% will do so if a friend or family member recommends the content, and 65% will spend money on entertainment if it is created by a trusted brand.

Becker noted that good relationships with consumers can drive business results for a brand. For example, if branded content is compelling, 37% of participants said they will pay attention to future content, 34% will recommend it to friends, family members, and colleagues, and 29% will both choose to buy the product or service and share positive experiences online.

The survey also found that 60% of consumers are very or somewhat likely to provide personal information to secure more tailored recommendations online, 74% of whom said they would do so to have wider exposure to a variety of content.

"Our hypothesis would be that there is so much content and clutter that anything that helps people navigate and prioritize really enhances their viewing experience," said Becker.

Even though consumers are inundated with content, 79% of survey participants use search engines to find content related to what they are watching at the time.

This year’s findings juxtapose those of five years ago, when the top 10 entertainment companies listed by consumers were traditional networks and studios. This year, the most top-of-mind was an online streaming platform, according to the survey. The name of the service was not disclosed.

Becker said brands used to focus more on where to place their content rather than quality. However, the study shows consumers want compelling content. Respondents said they’d be most likely to watch branded content if it’s informative (87%), connected to part of a series (78%), authentic to the company sponsoring it (76%), or if it includes a personal story (74%).

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