Vibrant Media Finds that Consumers Trust in Branded Content on Par with Editorial


(ADOTAS) NEW YORK, August 6th, 2014 — New research into the value consumers place on digital content shows that just two percent more consumers trust content from publications (35 percent) than from brands (33 percent). However, the data from native advertising company Vibrant Media also found that there are more consumers who distrust content from publications (18 percent) than there are who distrust content from brands (15.5 percent). When Vibrant Media’s researchers focused their assessment on media titles and brands with which consumers were familiar, they exposed a greater disparity in levels of distrust between brands and media titles: the number of consumers that distrust content from media titles they know (12 percent) is double the number who distrust content from brands that they know (6 percent).

Cynicism about content increases with age. Consumers aged 13-34 years old proved to be more trusting of all content producers compared to those aged 35-64. The study also found that 50 percent of respondents feel that it is important they be informed that an advertiser has paid for content.

The research results offer reassurance to publishers considering introducing branded content along with their editorial. Craig Gooding, Executive Chairman & Founder of Vibrant Media, said, “The very fact that consumers’ level of trust in branded content is even on par with editorial is very surprising. Moreover, the higher levels of distrust in publishers’ content than branded content shows far less cynicism about branded content than we expected. The findings have reassured us that publishers who offer branded content, or are considering doing so, are not compromising their relationship with consumers – as long as they do so responsibly.”

Vibrant’s New Content Marketing Units – Vibrant Amplify

Addressing the findings of the research, Vibrant Media is launching four new cross-platform native ad units to help consumers easily discover brands’ content – whether paid, earned or owned – from within editorial. Distributed across Vibrant Media’s network of over 6,600 premium publishers and performing on both mobile and desktop devices, these content marketing units give consumers much greater access to brands’ digital content compared to relying solely on search engines or the reach of a brand’s social media profiles. Vibrant’s units also give consumers control and choice, as a variety of relevant branded content can be presented from one interface. The units join the hugely successful Mosaic format, expanding Vibrant’s content marketing tools into a new range named “Vibrant Amplify”. The units only launch when a consumer actively chooses – either by tapping, clicking or lingering over a Vibrant Amplify mechanic for over three seconds.

Four of the formats can be launched from overlays appearing at the bottom of editorial images or from double-underlined keywords within editorial:

• Vibrant Content Distribution (NEW)
Both publishers and advertisers can use the Distribution units to enable consumers to easily find content on social channels or owned platforms such as websites or digital magazines. Once a consumer chooses to launch a Content Distribution unit they are presented with a snapshot of the content they can connect to – an image, headline and introduction. Notably, the publisher or advertiser only pays when the consumer clicks through to the full content.

• Vibrant Content Curation (NEW)
This engagement-focused format encourages consumers to interact with brands’ content without leaving the publisher’s page. Vibrant Content Curation units present various formats of content – videos, images, articles, demos, games and more – in an interactive full-screen unit. Brands can build a Curation unit of exclusively branded content or present both branded and licensed editorial content to consumers.

• Vibrant Amplify Live (NEW)
Through Vibrant Media’s dynamic content management system, brands can give consumers access to distributed branded content which is updated in real-time. Amplify Live enables brands to develop a truly responsive relationship with consumers, either by displaying curated content as it happens on a single interface or distributing real-time updates to drive consumers to their websites and social media platforms.

• Vibrant Mosaic
Launched in April 2013, this full-screen interactive format integrates brands’ social media and branded content into a single app-style presentation of various tiles of mixed media, including Twitter and Facebook feeds, YouTube videos, Pinterest images, articles and games.

Gooding said, “It’s clear that quality branded content has great power. But standards must be maintained to preserve the publisher-consumer relationship. All our campaigns follow the Vibrant principles of responsible native advertising: Integrity, Transparency, Proportionality, Relevancy and Appropriate Placement.”

• Integrity
Vibrant’s account managers and agency partners foster collaboration among the publisher and brand teams to ensure that editorial, sales, creative and marketing goals are aligned. The support of editorial teams is imperative, as the placement and function of the units rely on engaging editorial. Consequently, the units directly prove the value of journalists’ work because users’ interactions with the content marketing units – their hovers and taps – demonstrate to publishers and advertisers that the user is engaged with the editorial.

• Transparency
Each of Vibrant’s native advertising units is plugged into Vibrant IQ, the intelligent qualification process that ensures transparent native advertising and non-intrusive brand messaging by briefly displaying the logo of the advertiser to consumers before they choose to launch a Vibrant ad unit. Vibrant IQ not only makes it clear to users that a marketing message is available within content, but also the specific brand that is promoting the message – before commercial content is even displayed on screen. This process enables consumers to make informed choices before deciding to access each specific brand’s content.

• Proportionality
The Vibrant units sit unobtrusively within content. Publishers control both the number of native ads displayed within content and the frequency with which brands’ content is displayed. This ensures consumers get the content they want.

• Relevancy
The units are displayed in context, so they are not only relevant to the consumer but to the content within which they are placed. Vibrant’s research found that most consumers (64 percent) said that they are more likely to pay attention to an ad if it is placed within relevant content.

• Appropriate Placement
Vibrant’s units are launched from hyperlinks within editorial text or nimble overlays at the bottom of editorial images, so they unobtrusively fit the form and function of digital content. Because the units are responsively designed, they function as intended on all devices. The placement of the units is governed by Vibrant’s brand safety policies, which have been independently verified by media measurement body the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) as meeting all current good practice standards. Key to the management of appropriate placement is SafeServe™, Vibrant’s content verification technology, which contextually analyzes editorial in real time to ensure the suitability of content units.

Post-Click Content Preferences

Vibrant Media’s researchers also found that when consumers want more information about a brand or product after seeing an ad, one in three (33 percent) said the most useful source of information was the advertiser’s own website. This was five times the number of consumers who stated that articles written by journalists about the brand or product are the most useful source of information (6 percent). Even advertorials – articles written by the brand advertiser themselves but displayed on a third party publisher’s website – ranked higher than those written by journalists, with 8 percent of consumers stating that they found advertorials to be the most useful source of information about the brand or product.

Gooding said, “When looking for information about a brand, a third of consumers found the brands’ website most useful. This suggests that they are becoming more open to information directly from brands. With all the investment in content marketing, we are starting to see brands re-invest in their websites, developing content hubs so consumers have a reason to visit and find out more. It’s therefore important for brands to remember that one of their most crucial items of content is their own website, so it must not be neglected.”

Ranking of Receptivity to Branded Content Formats

Images ranked highest in Vibrant Media’s poll of consumers’ receptivity to branded content formats – 64 percent stating that they were receptive to brands’ images and just 12 percent saying they were not receptive to images. Video content followed, with 57 percent stating they were receptive and 20 percent unreceptive to such branded content. Just under half of consumers (46 percent) said they were receptive to articles written by brands, while 19 percent reported that they were unreceptive to that format.

Brands’ social media updates were the most unpopular of all branded content formats consumers could choose from. Thirty percent of consumers said they were unreceptive to brands’ social media posts – just 42 percent said they were receptive to such content. Interestingly, 44 percent of consumers said they were still receptive to straight-forward online advertising, such as standard banner ads, although nearly one in four (24 percent) said they were unreceptive to those formats.

Vibrant Media surveyed 1,000 people between the ages of 13 and 64 across the United States who owned at least one of a computer, a mobile phone or a tablet, each of which must connect to the Internet. The survey was conducted online by Toluna, a leading online panel and survey technology provider.

About Vibrant
Vibrant Media ( connects consumers in real time with engaging content and brand experiences cross-platform. Delivered directly from words, images and video within a premium native environment, Vibrant’s solutions are designed to be viewable, relevant and engaging. With over 6,600 premium publishers, reaching more than 300 million unique users per month (comScore 2014), Vibrant delivers native advertising at scale. Vibrant works with top advertisers such as Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, P&G, Sainsbury’s and Unilever. The company was founded in 2000 and has offices in New York, San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, London, Hamburg, Munich and Dusseldorf.


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