Premium publishers trump Facebook and Twitter for trust, transparency, and engagement

Sharethrough, the industry’s leading native supply-side platform, has released the results of a new UK survey revealing premium publishers rank far ahead of Facebook and Twitter for trust, transparency and engagement, and enjoy strong brand favourability.

According to the survey – which was completed in September 2017 using Qualtrics and sampled 524 UK residents – over three quarters (79%) of respondents thought it was very important to know the origins of news content, and they had more confidence in how premium publisher brands source their news than they do when they access news through social platforms.

Consumer understanding of where news content is sourced correlated clearly with brand trust. While the proportion of respondents who trusted premium publishers was relatively high, with 79% trusting the BBC, and 55% trusting The Times and The Guardian, only 36% said they trusted news content on Facebook and Twitter.

While 70% of those surveyed said that they knew where information was sourced by the BBC, and 55% felt the same about The Guardian and The Times, far fewer had the same confidence in the news content they accessed through their Facebook (43%) and Twitter (44%) news feeds.

The survey also revealed consumers engage more deeply with content on premium publisher sites than through social platforms. Although the time spent accessing news content on the two media types is broadly similar, respondents were 48% more likely to actually read an article on The Guardian than on Facebook, with social media activity geared towards scrolling through news headlines.

Sharethrough also conducted an identical survey in the US, sampling 1,000 US residents.  Both surveys revealed a strong favourability toward premium publishers, with 53% of UK respondents having a positive view of The Metro, and 62% of US respondents expressing a favourable opinion of Time.

Sharethrough’s Managing Director EMEA, Ally Stuart comments: “It is heartening to see that the UK public still consistently ranks premium editorial publishers ahead of social platforms in terms of trust, and confidence in their source of information.”

Stuart continues: “The results suggest that context really matters. UK consumers don’t engage with content on social platforms as deeply as with premium publishers because they don’t trust them to provide accurate information – and this trend isn’t restricted to the UK, we’re seeing this globally. When comparing both the UK and US surveys, there seems to be a universal importance for knowing the source of content. As brand safety concerns continue to be an issue in advertising, editorial publishers can differentiate by offering a premium environment, with a sense of audience trust and engagement that social platforms can never match.”

Additional findings:

  • Favourability towards premium publishers is strong with 80% of respondents reporting a positive opinion of the BBC, followed by The Metro (53%), The Guardian (48%), The Daily Mail (46%), The Times (44%) and The Telegraph (43%)
  • The majority (62%) of respondents said they check Facebook at least weekly but less than a fifth (19%) said they spend more than 30 minutes reading news during each Facebook visit.
  • Respondents expressed more active distrust for social platforms than for publishers, with three times as many saying they don’t trust articles shared on Facebook (33%) as don’t trust The Guardian (11%)
  • Overall, UK consumers are slightly more skeptical about the content they consume than US consumers, both on premium publisher sites and on social media platforms, but the need to understand the source of content is the same.

The survey was conducted between 19th and 27th September 2017, among a Qualtrics sample of 524 UK residents aged 18-50, which was weighted evenly by gender and age. The study was also conducted in the US between 25th August and 3rd September among a sample of 1,052 residents.

View the full report here.