< Our insights

Trust is back in fashion

Published Oct 17, 2019 – By Martin MacConnol


Trust in the content we read and view is on the rise, according to Wardour’s second annual survey of people’s attitudes towards print and digital media, which was launched today.

The surprise findings show that across all media types surveyed, people’s trust has typically leapt by around 10 percentage points from a year ago.

The highest spike in digital media was for the news apps and feeds that people access on their mobiles, which saw an increase in trust of 14 percentage points, from 30% in 2018 to 44% in 2019. In print media, the biggest boost was for printed magazines from associations, rising from 39% in 2018 to 56% this year.

The research, conducted over the summer and featuring 2,000 UK consumers aged over 18, also showed that most people (54%) feel confident about being able to identify genuine and trustworthy content online.

Martin MacConnol, CEO at Wardour

, said: “While it’s hard to say for sure, the data suggests to us that people are getting used to the world of fake news and disinformation, and are feeling confident about being able to use their own judgment in deciding whether to trust content or not.”


However, such judgment calls are not made in isolation. In what could be a nod to the waning power of influencers, the data showed that a perception of expertise was key in building trust. In both digital and print media, the top factors boosting trust in 2019 were held to be:

  • Accuracy and well supported facts
  • Confidence in the digital site/print publication sharing the content
  • The impartiality of the content
  • The content coming from someone deemed to be an expert.

These factors far outstripped ideas such as the content being shared by someone people ‘know and trust’.

Martin said: “These findings are important for content creators. We have to go beyond simple claims and back up our campaigns with insight and facts. The world of digital gives consumers ever more power to probe around the headline messaging, and content is the way to prove substance.”

Overall, the research showed that, if given a choice, people still prefer to consume content in print rather than online, although that preference is slowly diminishing over time. In 2019, 49% said they preferred paper content and 28% said they preferred digital. In 2018, the same question saw 52% preferring print and only 23% preferring digital.

Martin added: “There’s no arguing with the fact that we are heading to an ever more digital future, but the rate of that move is not as fast as people might think: paper is here to stay, and interestingly, the data even suggests that younger audiences are turning to print in greater numbers.”

One of the reasons for the slowness of the transition to online may come down to how people use the different print and digital channels. As might be expected, digital is seen primarily as a way of getting immediate information, while print is seen as more of a ‘lean back’ experience, used less often. 61% of respondents said they find it easier to read long or complicated messages on paper than on a screen (only 14% disagreed), 56% said it was easier to concentrate with print (only 13% disagreed) and 42% said they were more likely to remember something read in print than on screen (only 17% disagreed).

Martin said: “The findings confirm what we’ve been saying to clients for a while now. Good content programmes layer digital and print messaging, making the most of both channels to give the balance between quick access to information and premium moments of deeper engagement.”

To watch a recording of our webinar launch presentation this morning, follow this link or email us to request a copy of the research.

If you would like to know more about our research and how our content programmes could take your messages further, please call us on 020 7010 0999 or contact David King at david.king@wardour.co.uk.

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