Do Consumers Read Branded Online Content?

Brands continually seek innovative ways to engage with their audience. One such method is through branded online content—content created and distributed by brands intending to entertain, inform, or inspire while subtly promoting their products or services. However, the crucial question remains: Do consumers read branded online content?

Understanding Branded Online Content

Branded content differs from traditional advertising in that it focuses more on delivering value to the audience than directly promoting. It includes blog posts, articles, videos, social media updates, and interactive experiences. The goal is to create a connection with the audience by providing practical, engaging, or entertaining content.

The Appeal of Branded Content

  1. Value Addition: Consumers are more likely to engage with content that provides them with something valuable, whether it’s knowledge, entertainment, or solutions to problems. Branded content that educates or entertains can draw readers seeking that specific value.
  2. Storytelling: Humans are naturally drawn to stories. Branded content that tells a compelling story can capture the audience’s attention more effectively than straightforward advertisements. A well-told story can humanize a brand and make it more relatable.
  3. Trust and Authenticity: High-quality branded content can build trust and establish a brand as an authority in its field. When consumers perceive content as genuine and informative rather than purely promotional, they are more likely to engage with it.
  4. Engagement: Interactive and visually appealing content, such as infographics, videos, and interactive web experiences, tends to capture more attention. Brands that leverage multimedia content often see higher engagement rates.
  • 30% of consumers believe that paid content is of higher quality than free content, while 10% say free content is of higher quality.
  • 25% of consumers trust publications that require a subscription more, while 13% trust publications that are free to access more.
  • [On creator content] An average lift of 5 points in brand familiarity, 9 points in brand affinity, 6 points in brand consideration, and 7 points in purchase intent was observed across campaigns and verticals.
  • Bustle publisher revenue drops 10% as CPG and parenting brands falter.
  • 86% of consumers say they’re open to paying for brand content.
  • 63% of respondents said they would be open to paying for brand-produced TV, video, and film content.
  • 53% said they would consider paying for live event content.
  • 43% of consumers trust brand content created by professional journalists, and 42% trust it more when it discloses who funded and produced it.
  • One third of consumers trust content published by brands more than traditional media organizations.

Consumer Engagement with Branded Content

Research and trends indicate that consumers do engage with branded content under certain conditions:

  1. Relevance: Content relevant to the consumer’s interests or needs will likely be read and appreciated. Personalization and targeting are crucial in ensuring the right content reaches the right audience.
  2. Quality: High-quality, well-written, visually appealing, and professionally produced content stands a better chance of capturing consumer interest. Poorly executed content can have the opposite effect, turning potential readers away.
  3. Distribution Channels: Where and how content is distributed plays a significant role. Social media platforms, blogs, email newsletters, and video platforms are all effective channels, but their success depends on the target audience’s preferences.
  4. Consumer Fatigue: While there is a demand for good content, there is also a risk of content fatigue. Consumers are inundated with information, so standing out requires creativity and a deep understanding of the audience’s preferences and pain points.

Measuring the Impact

The effectiveness of branded content is often measured through metrics such as engagement rates, time spent on a page, social shares, and conversion rates. Surveys and feedback can also provide insights into how the audience perceives the content.

Yes, consumers read branded online content, but their engagement is contingent upon several factors, including the content’s relevance, quality, and authenticity. Brands that focus on creating valuable, engaging, and well-targeted content can effectively capture and retain consumer interest. Ultimately, the key to successful branded content lies in understanding and meeting the needs and preferences of the audience while maintaining a balance between providing value and promoting the brand.

Finding valuable, reliable information amidst this cacophony is a skill that needs to be honed. Here’s a guide to help you cut through the noise and make the most of the content you encounter online.

1. Define Your Purpose

Before diving into the web, clarify your objectives. Are you researching for a work project, seeking health advice, or just catching up on the news? Knowing your purpose helps you stay focused and resist the temptation to stray into less relevant or reliable content.

2. Choose Credible Sources

Not all content is created equal. Prioritize information from reputable sources such as established news outlets, academic journals, and official websites. Look for the author’s credentials, publication date, and the site’s reputation to gauge credibility. Websites with “.edu,” “.gov,” and well-known “.org” domains often provide reliable information.

3. Utilize Advanced Search Techniques

Search engines are powerful tools, but only if used effectively. Learn advanced search operators to refine your queries. For example:

  • Use quotes to search for exact phrases: "climate change impact on polar bears"
  • Use a minus sign to exclude terms: Python programming -snake
  • Use site-specific searches to find information from a particular domain: renewable energy research

4. Leverage Aggregator and Curation Tools

Aggregator platforms like Feedly, Flipboard, and Pocket can help streamline content consumption. These tools gather articles, blogs, and news based on your interests, allowing you to curate a personal library of quality content. They also help avoid cluttering up unrelated topics.

5. Evaluate Content Critically

Develop a habit of critical thinking when consuming content:

  • Check for Bias: Consider the potential bias of the source. Is the information presented objectively, or does it lean towards a particular viewpoint?
  • Cross-Verify Facts: Verify information by cross-checking with multiple sources. If several reputable sources report the same facts, the information is more likely to be accurate.
  • Analyze the Evidence: Look for data, references, and evidence supporting the content. Well-researched articles usually cite their sources.

6. Avoid Clickbait and Sensationalism

Headlines designed to attract clicks often sacrifice accuracy for attention. Be wary of sensationalist titles and scrutinize the content before accepting it as truth. Reliable content is usually straightforward and substantiated with facts rather than hyperbole.

7. Stay Updated but Discerning

The internet is dynamic, and new information is continuously emerging. Stay updated by following trusted news sources and subscribing to newsletters in your areas of interest. However, balance staying informed with critical evaluation to avoid falling for misinformation.

8. Use Social Media Wisely

Social media platforms are double-edged swords. They can provide real-time updates and diverse perspectives, but they are also breeding grounds for misinformation. Follow credible accounts, use platform tools to report false information, and participate in constructive and well-moderated discussions.

9. Implement Digital Well-being Practices

Finally, manage your digital consumption to avoid burnout. Set specific times for checking updates, use tools that limit screen time, and ensure you take breaks to digest and reflect on the information.

In an era of abundant yet often overwhelming information, mastering the art of cutting through online content is crucial. You can navigate the digital landscape efficiently and make informed decisions by defining your purpose, using credible sources, leveraging tools, and maintaining a critical eye. Remember, quality always trumps quantity when it comes to information consumption.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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