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We look at the trusted status of magazine brands vs social media and the extent to which this has a 'rub effect' for advertisers.

Brand trust is in crisis. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer revealed its most worrying findings for a decade with the largest-ever drop in trust across government, business, media and NGOs recorded. When it comes to brands facing a crisis in trust the headlines just keep coming, think the VW emissions scandal, United Airlines viral video disaster and the Pepsi/Kendall Jenner debacle. So, it’s no surprise that our work with MediaCom has revealed an increase in the number of client briefs around trust.

Trust certainly has been a hot topic year. But it’s not just a topic of the moment, trust matters, because, according to a recent report by Mintel, it’s linked to KPIs such as brand preference and a brand being worth paying for. Building brand trust is in large part down to product and service experience; however, media can play a role in delivering trustworthiness, or a perception of trust.

Media brands offer advertisers the opportunity to elevate perceptions of trustworthiness through partnerships and the placement of advertising in relevant contextual environments.

We wanted to explore this ‘brand rub effect’ between advertiser and media brand, in particular for published media and social media brands. Our new study ‘A Matter of Trust’, addresses the question to what extent do consumers trust the published media brands vs the social media brands they consume? And more importantly, does this trust in the media brand translate into increased levels of trustworthiness for the brands who advertise there?

Trust is an ambiguous concept, not easily defined by a single metric and rich in meaning and interpretation. A study designed to measure it would need to incorporate a number of angles to be confident the perceptions was accurately captured. Our study incorporated three different ways of measuring trust; a single direct question, factor analysis to capture the nuances of trust and implicitly to account for subconscious perceptions. No matter which way you cut it magazine media is more trusted than social media. To find out more read our conference deck here. A full report will be available soon.

Headline insights

  • Magazine brands are more trusted than social media brands, this even holds true amongst under 35 digital natives (70% of magazine readers trust magazines, only 30% of social media users trust social media, this changes to 62% and 35% for under 35’s)
     
  • Magazines are also more trusted than social media implicitly
     
  • Exploring the nuances of trust reveals that ‘Relevancy and Meaning’ makes the biggest contribution to trust in Media brands. Magazine brands over index 140 against this factor compared to an under index of 71 for social media.
     
  • Magazine brands inspire trust across a range of topic areas including beauty, food and motoring (amongst those interested in beauty 79% of fashion magazine readers trust magazines for advice and inspiration on beauty, only 60% of Instagram users trust Instagram for advice and inspiration on beauty and Facebook achieves lowest result at 28%, magazines are still the most trusted for beauty amongst under 35’s.)
     
  • There is a brand rub effect, trust in a magazine brand translates into perceptions of trustworthiness for brands who use this environment. Across a basket of campaign effectiveness studies and a range of trust based metrics, we saw an average % KPI uplift of between 64% and 94% per brand.