April 8, 2021

Industry Insights: Building Audience Trust

During times of economic and political uncertainty, people need to know they can trust publications to provide transparent, up-to-date, and reliable information. 

That’s why publishers need to pull out all the stops to prove their credibility — not just in regards to the content they produce, but also how they use customer data, deliver ad experiences, and provide value to subscribers. 

As Jeeng found in a recent study, trust is a major factor in driving engagement across every channel. In fact, trust also drives revenue. Because one you establish that trust with your reader, they’ll be more willing to click on ads served on your channels — like email — by your partners. 

The sad news? Reuters reported that only 38% of consumers trusted news in 2020, down from 42% in 2019. IBM also found that 81% of consumers have become concerned about how companies use their data, such as to deliver ads. These stats are discouraging, but not too surprising given recent scandals around fake news and data breaches, especially on social networks like Facebook.

To help publishers better establish their trustworthiness in an age of frequent misinformation, we’re sharing key insights from leaders across the industry about the strategies, technologies, and data they’re using to improve credibility.

Here’s what they have to say:

1. Tanya Cordrey, former chief digital officer, Guardian News & Media

“In 2021, a handful of publishers will likely look at their roadmap and dedicate a certain percentage of tech and product team resources to build, test, and learn about trust: How it is won, lost, and perceived. This will not be a one-off project but instead the creation of a permanent product and tech Trust teams. Just as almost all sizeable publishers today have audience teams, almost all will have trust teams and trust dashboards within five years.”

2. Jeff Turner, head of commercial product, The Washington Post

“I think a lot of times when people talk about trust, they think about the editorial content itself. But it’s the holistic experience of visiting a site […] especially if you’re a subscriber. The last thing those subscribers want is to come to a page and be inundated with pop-up ads, flashy ads, or jumpy pages. It’s that whole interaction with the brand that needs to be trusted, in addition to the editorial clout and quality.”

3. Allison Mezzafonte, media advisor, CM Group

“Each business needs to look at where its strengths are and where the opportunities are. Publishers seem to think they need a search strategy, a commerce strategy, a video strategy, an email strategy. Most are never going to do all of those really well, especially in this climate. So think about what you do well. Why do people come to your brand? Why do people read your content? You need to know your audience — not just your audience at scale. What do they care about? Whatever it is, do more of that.”

4. Will Roth, VP, head of content & strategy, The Foundry 

“Authenticity is what, in so many ways, drives engagement for every publishing outlet. Our responsibility is to make sure we’re not violating the trust that our authentic editorial content has generated with its audience for advertisers […] Maintaining that trust is paramount both to the advertiser’s campaign success but also for the ongoing vitality of the publishing entity itself.”

5. Bob Liodice, CEO, Association of National Advertisers

“The marketing industry has made significant progress in bringing transparency and accountability to digital media buying, but the war on ad fraud continues. We need a set of comprehensive solutions […] providing assurances at the publisher level.”

6. Nola Solomon,  VP of AdSmart programmatic, advanced advertising products & strategy, NBCUniversal

“From a technology standpoint, traditional media companies must embrace these changes and transform into a media-technology company that leverages first-party authenticated data and privacy-friendly partnerships that benefit all sides of the advertising ecosystem.”

7. Jeff Kupietzky, CEO, Jeeng

“Today, most of the alternative competition comes from Facebook, Google, and other social media platforms. And we’ve seen overwhelmingly a lack of trust in those platforms and a preference always for getting news and information from a trusted publisher. And they generally are fewer than three. That’s the number we found the consumer will ultimately stick with. So if you can be one of those top three sites then you end up getting this benefit. Consumers want that trust because their alternatives are so poor as a substitute.”

8. Ganda Suthivarakom, former editor in chief, Wirecutter

“We don’t accept unsolicited product. We have the same DNA as the Times, and we know that reader trust is the most important asset we have. We can never squander that, because without it, we don’t have a business.”

9. Michelle Buffardi, VP of digital, Discovery Digital Studios

“As publishers, I think we are, more and more, asking so much of our audience as we diversify and need new revenue streams for our companies. We’re asking users to trust us with product recommendations, integrations, different advertiser relationships. So having that transparency in our editorial content is really important. When we say something is healthy, for example, we back that with guidelines set by our registered dietitians. They actually do meet a certain set of standards.”

10. Nick Hamish, chief revenue officer, The Guardian

“There is this drive towards low-cost audiences and scale because there is this belief that that’s all that matters. We publishers need to add to the list of case studies that demonstrate that premium environments add value to advertisers. Premium environments make a difference.”

Multichannel messaging for building audience trust

In the digital age, trust isn’t just given freely. It’s earned. And publishers can prove their worth by consistently providing valuable, high-quality, data-driven experiences across channels.

That’s why Jeeng exists — to give publishers the tools to drive multichannel engagement, backed by first-party data. So whether you’re reaching subscribers with monetized emails, relevant push notifications, or curated website content, you can be sure your strategies are optimized to meet your audiences’ needs and earn their trust.

Ready to improve your trust and quality across channels? Contact us today to learn more.