Why Trust, Not Crypto, Is Today’s Most Valuable Online Currency


In times of uncertainty, reliable sources become even more important in the media world. Elise Bennett (pictured), Head of Account Management (APAC) at Outbrain, reveals what advertisers need to know about the new trusted exchange.

Instability breeds uncertainty. From bushfires to pandemic and war, there has been a lot going on in recent years.

These events inevitably end up dominating the daily news cycle. The sheer weight of heartbreaking information sent to us on a daily basis means that even a glance at the headlines can feel like another disastrous scrolling session.

But it’s hard to look away. Likewise, it’s no surprise that news websites have seen such a massive increase over the past few years. At the height of the pandemic, Nielsen’s digital content ratings revealed a 57% increase in audiences for the top ten news sites in March 2020, compared to February of the same year.

It just shows our dependence on the media in times of crisis. The need for reliable and accurate information has never been greater.

There’s no room for misinformation, not when we’ve all seen how dangerous it can be. The pandemic has proven how quickly information can be distorted online and how facts can get lost in virality. Being able to trust the content we consume is now one of the main reasons people choose one online platform over another.

For advertisers, that makes trust one of their most valuable assets – and now you have to work hard to earn and keep it. With so many online media channels vying for attention, customers are more wary and wary of advertising than ever.

To dig deeper into this question, Outbrain and Savanta have partnered for a global study, The Power of Native, to examine the changing nature of online trust, recommendations and advertising. Research found that news sites are among the most trusted online spaces for Australians, with 71% of consumers trusting content and recommendations seen in editorial environments. This compares to only 50% who trust user-generated content and recommendations from social media sites.

This means that while trust is harder to earn, it all depends on the strength and value of the information being offered. Native advertising, for example, is highly valued in this regard, with 47% of people trusting the information they find when they click on native ads. For an advertising campaign to be successful, it must have substance and weight behind it.

The same goes for the online channels that customers seek. The more a website is likely to offer unreliable information, the more likely it is to lose its audience. Outbrain’s study found that 25% of people plan to spend less time on social media over the next six months. Of this group, 33% plan to spend that time visiting websites with editorial content.

This shift means it’s increasingly important for advertisers and marketers to think deeper and more carefully about where and how brands appear online. It’s no longer just about making sure the ad aligns with the overall tone of the page it’s displayed on. This is to ensure that advertising builds trust for both the publication and the brand.

We can look to some of the Internet giants as examples of the failure of the trust exchange. Netflix’s much-watched decline in subscriber numbers and Facebook’s declining average daily user count in Q4 2021 are not unrelated situations. Both of these companies are struggling with a content issue. And on top of that, audiences increasingly don’t believe their attention (and in Netflix’s case, money) is being adequately rewarded.

In the new world, customers expect that in return for the attention they give to your brand, they will be rewarded with information that they can actually use in their lives. It is clear that the public will no longer be taken for granted.

That’s why any value your brand can provide must be established before you can hope to move customers along the buying journey. Native advertising once again stands out in this area: Savanta research shows that 20% of people found these ads useful and 24% thought they were informative.

So in the battle to gain trust in the online arena, brands can ensure they are targeting customers in the most effective and engaging way possible. Headlines are a key way to achieve this and can sometimes be overlooked in marketing strategies. However, research found that 43% of Australians like when a site they are on presents them with content recommendations using titles.

These headlines should be short and to the point, much like a news headline would be. They are more effective in attracting attention and enticing customers to learn more about the topic.

Animations and videos are also key to attracting customers, with 34% of Australians saying they like it when a site presents them with recommendations using them. Basically, they’re both engaging and eye-catching, and prove that advertisers can’t skimp on creative.

It may seem that everything is catastrophic at the moment. But remember that in times of uncertainty, your customer’s trust is invaluable – and can mean the difference between your brand and your competition.

Source: Power of Native, an Outbrain survey commissioned by Savanta, February 2022

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