Earned media still most influential to consumers

Branded content may be all the rage, but endorsements from trusted, unbiased sources guide a vast majority of purchasing decisions, according to a Nielsen study.

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Expert content—credible, third-party articles (earned media)—is the most effective source of information for affecting consumers along all stages of the purchase process across product categories.

Such are the findings of a new in-lab study by Nielsen, commissioned by inPowered.

Specifically, when measured against owned media (branded content) it showed that earned media is 80 percent more effective at both the purchase consideration and affinity stages, and 38 percent more effective at the familiarity stage.

In other words, brands that actively engage in media outreach will probably see greater consumer impact at all stages than that of brands relying primarily on content marketing.

This in-lab, multi-month study exposed 900 consumers to three different types of content: expert content from credible sources (earned media), branded content (owned media), and user-generated content (such as reviews on Amazon).

Other important findings indicate that the credibility and unbiased nature of the content was crucial for consumers:

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