Most Americans Say Web Content Today Is “Hit or Miss” or “Unreliable,” New Credibility Study Finds

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Content Science releases results of first comprehensive study of web content credibility and sheds light on how people judge credibility of digital content from businesses, media, nonprofits, government agencies, and personalities.

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Survey data from 800 U.S. respondents on their perceptions of the web

“We found that people in the U.S. use the web more now than ever—and yet they are skeptical of web content,” says Colleen Jones, Principal of Content Science and chief investigator of the study.

A new study by research firm Content Science suggests that people do not find web content reliable, and their trust in web content has not improved over the past 5 years.

The study consisted of a comprehensive survey conducted both in the U.S. and the U.K. with 1,600 people. The survey asks participants about their views of content credibility in general and in three different industries: health, finance and travel. Participants also viewed samples of content and rated their credibility.

“We found that people in the U.S. use the web more now than ever—and yet they are skeptical of web content,” says Colleen Jones, Principal of Content Science and chief investigator of the study.

“This finding and the rest of our study lead us to believe that when it comes to web content, people face an experience not unlike looking for treasure in an ever-growing trash heap.”

Among survey participants’ top reasons to verify whether content is trustworthy or credible is when:

  • The content is from a company or brand they do not know.
  • The content is about a health issue.
  • The content has typos, errors, or inconsistencies.

Age also played a central role in the study. For example, Americans ages 18-34 reported their trust in web content is actually less than it was five years ago.

Although the web seems to have a content credibility problem, there is an up side.
Jones explains, “We were surprised to find that people are really open to businesses, brands, nonprofits, and other non-media entities being credible sources of web content. And, one big factor in how people judge the credibility of content is whether the content is useful to them. If businesses, brands, and other organizations make their web content more useful, they will be perceived as more credible.”

The full results of the study—including detailed findings for the industries of health, finance, and travel—recommendations is available from Content Science at
http://www.content-science.com/the-study.

About Content Science
Content Science is an award-winning consultancy advising Fortune 500 companies, startups, institutions, and government agencies on digital content strategy. The firm’s growing client roster includes InterContinental Hotels Group, Equifax, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Cox Media Group. The principal of Content Science, Colleen Jones, is the author of the acclaimed book, Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content.

Media Contact:
Michael D. Driscoll
michael(at)content-science(dot)com
Phone: 404-965-3034 x701

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Michael D. Driscoll
Content Science
404-965-3034 x701
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