Marketers proclaim that content is king, but with the abundance of options for content creation, it can be difficult to know which type reigns supreme. A new study conducted by Nielsen/inPowered MediaLab can help marketers get a better idea of which format is best for their intent and content. The study examined how consumers use various types of content and how these sources affect their attitudes and actions toward a wide range of products at every phase of the purchase process. The researchers were looking to learn whether different types of content on different types of products made a measurable difference in the purchase process. The study is especially important today as the proliferation of digital devices and the wealth of online content has made consumers much more likely to seek out these sources before they buy. To assess the effects of various content, MediaPost.com shared the key results.
The testing began with consumers being exposed to three types of content for nine different products in a variety of categories, including electronics, automobiles, home appliances, and entertainment. A diverse range of products was chosen to determine whether the impact of the content varied by the product. The three types of content studied were:
- Expert Content – came from articles and blogs from credible industry sources
- User Reviews – came from popular online retailers and boards
- Branded Content – came directly from the official websites for each product
The results revealed that all three types of content showed some success at increasing the levels of product familiarity, affinity, and purchase intent. But it was the expert content that proved to be the most effective of all, as shown by these comparisons:
- Expert content lifted familiarity 88% more than branded content and 50% more than user reviews.
- Expert content lifted affinity 50% more than branded content and 20% more than user reviews.
- Expert content lifted purchase intent 83% more than user reviews and 38% more than branded content.
These third-party articles and reviews delivered the highest positive lift across the entire purchase process and on all product categories. Researchers attributed the success of the expert copy to two key factors:
- The unbiased, honest nature of the expert content. This was indicated by the 61% of consumers that said they would not trust paid product reviews, along with the 50% of consumers that would not trust a product’s branded website for an impartial product review.
- How informative the content was perceived to be by consumers. The expert content was deemed around 10% more informative than both the branded content and content.
Altogether, the expert content was viewed as more credible and knowledgeable than the other sources of information, which led to its high performance and resonance with consumers.
In the different product categories, the expert content retained its high levels of performance across most of the categories, but there were some instances where the branded content or user content proved to be almost as effective.
The user content seemed to be successful in the categories that required higher product expertise, such as video games where reviews from fellow gamers were viewed as more reliable and relevant than reviews from outside sources or the game’s manufacturer.
Branded content generated a greater lift in the product categories where detailed specs were involved in the final purchase decision, such as digital cameras, because consumers considered the branded content to be their most accurate source of information.
It’s important to note that the expert content was still most effective at lifting the levels of product awareness for both the video game and digital camera categories listed above, but the branded content and user content produced greater lifts in both affinity and purchase intent for those particular categories.
The takeaway for marketers is that content remains king, but it’s the expert content that rules consumer perception and purchase.
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