Keep Media Relations in the Mix

A new study suggests consumers depend on credible third-party sources of information a lot more than branded content — but after trust is established, branded content can be a valuable consumer resource.Branded content can be persuasive, but it often needs to follow effective earned media efforts that build a bridge of initial trust.

That conclusion comes from a study of 900 consumers by Nielsen and commissioned by inPowered that examined the relative effectiveness on consumers of branded content versus credible earned media. Nielsen found credible, third-party stories, usually the result of media relations efforts, are 80 percent more effective in convincing consumers to make a purchase or establish an affinity with a brand.

What the study affirms is that consumers rely largely on unbiased advice, reviews or information to make buy decisions. The gap between independent sources of information and branded content is much larger than content marketers may feel comfortable admitting.

However, the study isn't a complete indictment on content marketing. It suggests that once trust is established, consumers will engage with branded content.

The bottom line message of the report is that smart marketing plans include a healthy mix of earned media and branded outreach. Or put another way, get published wherever you can, by whoever you can.