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Media's most trusted brands

Carat's CCS survey reveals the most trusted brands among traditional and new media, and emphasises the need for them to keep proving themselves in a rapidly changing landscape.

BBC: received the highest trust scores of any media brand

BBC: received the highest trust scores of any media brand

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As information proliferates, the need for "lighthouse media" brands increases. A trusted media brand can be a beacon guiding consumers through an often overwhelming amount of content.

Carat’s Consumer Connection System (CCS), an annual survey of 11,000 people, has revealed how trustworthy media brands are currently considered. This, Carat believes, is a fundamental communications planning currency for any brand seeking to connect with consumers in the new-media age.

The BBC is the most trusted media brand in the UK, with 46% of adults agreeing. This is particularly encouraging news as this trust measure continues to rise: up 4% on last year’s figures.

In addition, the BBC brand received the highest trust scores of any media brand when segmented by social grade, age and gender. This peaks among pensioners and upmarket AB adults. Its heritage, combined with a successful strategy to operate across new-media platforms, has ensured the BBC remains as relevant today as it has ever been.

Trustworthiness isn’t solely the preserve of the BBC when it comes to broadcasters. Mention must also be made of ITV and Channel 4, with trust scores of 22% and 18% respectively.

Top 10 trustworthy media brands
BBC  46%
Google  32%
Amazon  27%
Financial times  24%
Microsoft  24%
The Times  23%
ITV  22%
Daily Telegraph  19%
Channel 4  18%
The Guardian  18%

Source: UK CCS

Six of the top 20 most-trusted media brands have provenance as newspapers: mainly the quality and mid-market titles. The Times, Telegraph, Guardian and Financial Times all make the top 10. These rank highly among all groups, but are most trusted among older age groups. Thirty-six percent of people working within the banking/financial services sector regard the Financial Times as trustworthy.

When we look at trust among each media brand’s own audience, it paints an even stronger picture for those with a newspaper heritage. The strength of trust among their own readership and viewers is unsurpassed, with The Telegraph and Financial Times deemed the most trustworthy both with agreement scores of 65%.

Trustworthiness among their own audience
Daily Telegraph 65%
Financial Times 65%
The Guardian 63%
The Times 61%
Microsoft  53%
BBC 50%
Google 46%
Amazon 37%
ITV 25%
C4 24%

Source: UK CCS

Despite falling print circulations, this should give confidence to those titles built on high-quality editorial, and, in particular, those behind paywalls, that their brands are powerful and differentiating digital media propositions.  

Google is ranked second only to the BBC as the nation’s most trusted media brand, and Google is trusted by more demographic groups than the BBC, appealing to 55-pluses, as well as the under 34s.

In 2007, Google was ranked just sixth, with an agreement score of 21%. Such growth in three years is yet another indicator of the pace of change and how important content aggregation is, even when compared against content origination, for trustworthiness.   

Looking at the changing landscape in just the past three years suggests trustworthiness is not a right, but something that continually needs to be earned.

Popular online social networking and information sites Facebook and Twitter do not yet feature in the top 20 trusted brands among adults. While they do just creep into the top 20 among 15 to 34-year-olds, they are still less trusted among this group than more established traditional media brands. This we expect to change when the 2011 data becomes available early next year.

It is vital, therefore, that today’s most trustworthy media brands continue to prove to their readership, viewers and users, that they remain the most relevant and illuminating beacons in our evolving media age.

Richard Morris, head of planning, Carat

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