Who needs networks? Consumers trust brands most to create quality content

Edelman Entertainment Study finds that lines between networks, streaming platforms and brands are now fully blurred

Consumers now trust brands as much as they do television networks to entertain them, a new study revealed.

The ninth annual Edelman Entertainment Study asked 2,000 people which sources they trust to produce entertaining content. Seventy two percent said they trust traditional cable networks, 73% said broadcast networks, 74% said online video streaming platforms and 75% said brands.

While the results showed no clear winner — the difference between the top and bottom answers were nearly within the 2% margin of error — they do illustrate the extent to which the lines between brands and traditional content producers have been blurred.

"Great content comes from anywhere, and consumers are showing that they don’t care who’s creating it," said Gail Becker, president, strategic partnerships and global integrations, Edelman. "People who are buying certain brands already own those trusted brands, they’re buying the products, and they have them in their homes."

Perhaps most important for brands looking to capture consumer data, 60% of respondents said they were likely to provide personal information to content producers in order to receive tailored recommendations online. Though 5% expressed serious discomfort with the idea, 80% agreed that predictive recommendations enhanced their viewing experience.
"We live in a world where there’s so much content, and we see that actually coming through as it relates to big data," Becker said. "It helps them navigate and prioritize their content and entertainment. That’s significant because technology platforms have data and can perform for the individual’s needs."

Not all brands are seen as equal, however, and that affects what consumers are willing to engage with. Eighty-five percent of respondents said they would watch branded content created by a company they trust, and 65% said their trust in a brand or content producer helped them decide where to spend their entertainment dollars. To put that in context, only slightly more respondents — 70% — said they relied on recommendations from friend or family members when making that decision.

It’s not just consumers who have changed, Becker said. Brands themselves have gotten better at playing the content game.

"When brands first started creating content, it’s fair to say there were a few missteps, where some brands may not have done it the right way." Becker said. "Today, brands known exactly how to find compelling consumer content. It has to be personal, authentic and informative — those are real trust-building attributes. That gives me a relationship to the content and the brand." Asked to name companies doing it well, Becker cited Dove and quick-service restaurants in general.

The Edelman Berland study, showing the results of 2,000 people ages 18 to 54 residing in the US and UK from August 7 to 13.

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