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2019 brings renewed consumer engagement with trust of the media climbing sharply

January 22, 2019 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

Consumer trust is a vital and a key differentiator for publishers in a competitive environment. Fostering trust, prioritizing consumer rights and offering transparency of data practices is more important than ever before for premium publishers.

Significantly, according to the 19th Annual Edelman Trust Barometer 2019, consumer trust in traditional media (64%) and search (66%) are at highest ever historical levels. In contrast, trust in social media remains low, at 44%. Contributing to social media’s low trust scores is data showing that close to three-quarters (73%) of all respondents worry about false information or fake news being used as a weapon.

Specific findings in the US and Canada and Europe include:

  • The US and Canada and European markets also registered significant trust in traditional media and search compared to social media. Trust in traditional media is at its highest-ever historical level at 65% in US and Canada and 60% in Europe, trust in search at 61% and 59%, respectively. However, rust in social media in both markets is at 34%.
  • The percentage gap between trust in traditional and social media is now at an all-time high of 31-points in US and Canada and a 26-point gap in Europe.
  • In terms of political differences, consumers who identify as Republican voters show only 33% trust in media compared to 69% of Democrats voters.

An Informed Public

The Edelman research, which is based on an online survey in 27 markets with over 33,000 respondents, also shows a considerably large trust gap (16 points) between the “informed public” (65%) and the “mass population” (49%). The “informed public” is defined as respondents self-reporting significant media consumption and engagement in public policy and business news compared to the wider public. These two groups present two different consumer realities. The “informed public” is seeking news, investigating and building trust. The “mass population” is more fearful and feels marginalized. Stephen Kehoe, Edelman’s global chair of reputation points out that: “… renewed engagement especially among the informed public has sparked a desire for change and factual information prompting an unprecedented increase in media consumption and the sharing of news and information, up 22 points to 72%.”

Further, more women, think that the #metoo movement, (plus 23 percentage points year-over-year) than men (plus 18 percentage points) shift from the “mass population” to the “informed public” segment.

People are also looking to leaders to take charge and initiate change. More than three-quarters (76%) of respondents report that CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to impose it. Specific needs for positive change include: equal pay (65%), prejudice and discrimination (64%), training for jobs of tomorrow (64%), environment (56%), personal data (55%), sexual harassment (47%) and fake news (37%). 

In all, this year’s findings speak to a new sense of consumer engagement compared to last year’s Trust Barometer. This year, people seek new opportunities to find news and information to take better control of their lives.

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