Highlights from DCN's "Trust as a Proxy for Brand Value" Report

Our friends at Digital Content Next (DCN) recently released a study about how consumer trust in the news they consume impacts information consumption. It’s worth reading the full report (especially the insights around advertiser trust and the unique needs of millennials), but below we highlight three of the most important takeaways for news creators and publishers.


  1. Readers think news brand sites are less likely to have “fake news” than social media sites, probably because they hold news brand sites to higher standards.
    • Unlike social media sites, search engines or YouTube, when consumers choose a brand website for information, over 90 percent say that it is important for the news on the site to be trustworthy, credible, accurate, up-to-date, high quality or current.
      • There are other content attributes that impact trust in a site, but that consumers themselves might not even realize they are looking for. These “hidden driver” content attributes include editorial, entertaining, popularity, a perspective or point of view, virality, personalization and uniqueness.
    • Thanks to this study, we now have even more proof that what is important to publishers, editors and reporters is also important to readers.


  1. There are four primary components that determine the trust a consumer has in a source. The most important of them, attributing sources, is a building block of good journalism.
    • Attribution (defined in this study as “confirming multiple sources”) generates 57 percent of the trust a reader has in a source they read.
    • In the age of “fake news” concerns, being clear about the process of good journalism can pay dividends in encouraging reader trust.


  1. When a consumer trusts a news site, that trust positively impacts perception of that site’s advertisers.
    • Fifty-nine percent of survey respondents agreed that when they trust the content on a site, it helps them trust ads on that site.
      • When asked which site attributes make readers most likely to trust site advertisers, the top answers were “trustworthy”, “credible” and “accuracy”.
    • This trust shows the power of trusted content, even for readers who don’t want to see ads.
      • Of the 41 percent of consumers who currently use an ad blocker, 68 percent have disabled the blocker when requested by a site they trust. Of the 59 percent who do not use ad blockers, 60 percent would disable upon request from a trusted site.



There are many factors that lead to reader trust and more research on this topic will help provide organizations with direction on ways to continue to earn their readers’ trust and ensure ongoing engagement. For more on consumer trust in news media,  see the following reports from the American Press Institute:

DCN also has investigated how this trust research aligns with a recent Reuters Institute study.
We at the News Media Alliance are also planning our own research to investigate how to grow trust, both by sharing results of external studies like this. If you would like to hear more about these upcoming projects or have ideas for research and experiments, please get in touch at rebecca@newsmediaalliance.org.


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