Amidst Fake News Concerns, Nearly 1-in-3 U.S. Consumers Still Say Media Coverage is Most Likely to Drive Product Awareness and Purchases

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BMV's 2019 Digital Brand: Awareness, Engagement & Action Index Finds Potential Rebound in Earned Media Impact As Consumers Face Ad & Influencer Burnout

BMV Digital Brand: Awareness, Engagement & Action Index

While our index shows that brands are undervaluing the sales impact of digital media relations, the difficulty in achieving earned media distribution in today’s 86,400-second news cycle means brands must also be able to create compelling owned stories and amplify through influencers and social ads.

Beantown Media Ventures (BMV), a digital PR and content marketing agency, today released findings from its inaugural BMV Digital Brand: Awareness, Engagement & Action Index. The report surveyed more than 1,000 consumers in the 1H of 2019 — weighted for U.S. population — to discover how brands garner attention and drive purchases online, while also examining consumer viewpoints on digital channels and uncovering how trust is earned in the fake news era.

2019 marks the first year that digital marketing and advertising spend will outpace analog marketing spend across traditional channels such as TV, radio, and newspapers. This gives digitally native, challenger brands the opportunity to effectively compete with legacy companies on their own digital turf. However, the creation of innumerable open platforms to increase awareness creates oversaturation, and therefore, a battle for attention online and a question amongst CMOs of where to allocate marketing budgets. In addition, the proliferation of fake news is exacerbating the distrust of media coverage, content and the brands associated with it.

According to the Index, earned media is the number one way consumers say they discover products online, with 30% of respondents saying that a digital news article is typically how they hear about new products and services online. Furthermore, consumers say news articles are also the most impactful in shaping their buying decisions.

In fact, news articles came out ahead of positive social media posts on a product or service from friends and family (28%) as being the most impactful for driving a buying decision. Meanwhile, while 29% of consumers admitted that social and digital ads drive their awareness of new products, only 12% said a positive mention of a brand in a digital or social ad influences their buying decision.

“While there’s little doubt that brands must look beyond telling their story exclusively through traditional PR and earned media in our digital age, the pendulum may have swung too far in the direction of social media advertising, branded content creation, and paid influencer endorsements,” said Kyle Austin, Founder and Managing Partner of BMV. “The fake news era has created an appetite among consumers for trustworthy information from credible media outlets. As a byproduct, digital news articles are driving product awareness, and ultimately purchases, more effectively than other digital alternatives that have been commanding large budgets as of late.”

Other key findings from the BMV Digital Brand: Awareness, Engagement & Action Index include:

  • Younger consumers (Gen Z and Millennials) say that they’re most likely to learn about new consumer products from social media and digital advertisements (35%).
  • Compared to consumer products and services, branded content (company blog, social media, video) came in much higher (27%) as the way potential buyers say they discover B2B products vs. B2C products online (13%).
  • Nearly ⅓ of consumers (32%) say they follow and consume branded social media content simply because it’s interesting and engaging.
  • 86% of consumers say fake news exists online.
  • However, nearly half of consumers (49%) say fake news is most likely to appear first on and spread from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube rather than spreading from national news sites (20%).
  • 3 out of 4 consumers say they are at least sometimes dissuaded from doing business with a company that they believe/know has been collecting data on them for advertising purposes.

“While our index indicates that brands are likely undervaluing the sales impact of media relations in the digital age, the difficulty in achieving earned media distribution in today’s 86,400-second news cycle means brands must also be able to create compelling stories across owned channels and amplify through influencers and social ads,” said John Eidson, VP of Content & Strategy at BMV. “This is especially true in driving awareness and engagement with younger demographics. In contrast with other generations, Gen Z and millennials say that they’re most likely to learn about consumer products from social media advertisements, and 40% of them say they follow and consume a brand’s social media account just because it's interesting.”

The BMV Digital Brand: Awareness, Engagement & Action Index can be downloaded for free here.

About Beantown Media Ventures

Beantown Media Ventures (BMV) is a digital PR and content marketing agency nimble enough to support venture-backed startups and strategic enough to advise the Fortune 500 on marketing campaigns that drive action. It works work with high-growth and challenger brands across the globe such as RunKeeper, Open Listings, Domio, Meitu and Opensignal to hone and tell their stories in impactful ways. With a deep understanding of the startup and digital ecosystem, and the unique challenges that entrepreneurs and marketers face today, BMV leverages its expertise in PR, branded content and social media marketing to ensure brand stories get heard and engaged with, all with an eye toward driving leads, accelerating growth and increasing valuations. For more information, visit http://www.beantownmv.com.

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