Content sites better at engaging consumers than social media

Engagement and ad responsiveness are stronger for original content sites than social networks or portals, according to a study by the Association of Online Publishers (AOP).


The association examined how advertising and responsiveness varies across different types of site and findings suggest that web users are almost twice as likely to trust ads and brands on original content sites as on social media sites.

They’re almost three times more likely to believe that content sites are better than social media sites at influencing positive brand opinion, the study found.

Three-fifths of those surveyed (59%) trust advertising on content sites (categorised as UK newspaper sites, UK commercial TV and radio sites, UK magazine sites and trade/business publication sites).

Almost half (48%) trust advertising on portals such as MSN and Yahoo, while just 39% trust advertising on social networks.

For levels of brand trust on the sites, 60% said they trust brands’ content sites, 43% on portals and 39% on social networks.
The study also found that content sites are better at influencing positive brand opinion.

Almost a third of respondents (32%) said they feel more positive towards a brand on a content site, 17% on portals and 14% on social networks.

The research, in collaboration with GfK NOP, used a sample of 1,340 interviews conducted via an online UK panel during October.
Respondents were regular users of the web (at least once a week) and visited a relevant site at least twice a month. They then answered questions based on a specific site they regularly visited within one of the above types.

Conclusions included the suggestion of a new set of metrics, replacing conventional engagement metrics, to account for how different types of sites impact user engagement and responsiveness in different ways.

The study proposes five dimensions of site engagement encompassing trust, community, authority, uniqueness and entertainment, as well as three characteristics of advertising behaviour around trust, action and awareness as measures to replace dwell time and frequency of visit.

AOP members comprise newspaper and magazine publishers, TV and radio broadcasters and pure online media agencies in the UK, and are producers of original, branded and premium content.

This story first appeared on

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