Media Industry and Consumers   Trust  

Exploring Trust in Media Brands Today: Definition, Dimensions and Cross-National Differences

With increasing media digitization, convergence, co-creation and branded content, it is getting difficult to define what a “media” brand is.

Today’s abundant content from linear media, tech companies, influencers and others also presents a growing challenge in measuring the trust consumers place on these different media platforms/outlets. In fact, timely and substantive definition of media and its trust assessment have significant implications in the business processes and strategies in both media and advertising industries.

Accordingly, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Professor and Director of Consumer Media Research Sylvia Chan-Olmsted and her colleagues sought to define a media brand and its trust elements from a user-centric, global approach using a three-phase research methodology, including consumer survey, focus groups, and expert interviews in the countries of Germany, United States, and South Korea.

The researchers first discovered that the multi-national consumers generally define traditional media, digital entertainment, and social media as media. Specifically, they categorized television channel/network, radio, news, film, music, streaming, social media, print, outdoor ads, messenger service, and video chat as media, but gaming, hardware/software, online retailing, influencers and global tech brands as non-media. Focus groups from all three countries further elaborated on the essential qualities of media as connection through information and entertainment.

The researchers identified the following key dimensions in measuring media brands: relevancy, integrity, transparency, likeness, experience, benevolence, credibility, competence, halo, commercialism, and time, thus expanding the limited trust aspects used traditionally.

The authors concluded that media brands differ from regular brands in that regular brands operate on a more transactional approach connected to a need for consumer persuasion. Media brands rely on a business model that is highly dependent on continuous trust-building via content and engagement with the brand, as well as individual and social impacts of the brand.

Furthermore, there is a higher level of complexity of measuring trust in media in comparison to trust in regular brands. For example, the aspects of “Halo,” the impact of trust in media content on advertising/messaging surrounding it; “Time,” the personal habit/history with a media brand; and “Likeness,” the similarity between the consumers’ and media brands’ attitudes and perceptions of the world, to play a significant role in trust-building for media brands.

The original article, “Exploring Trust in Media Brands Today: Definition, Dimensions and Cross-National Differences,” was published in the Institut für Marketing Diskussionsbeitrag Nr. 11 in November 2022.

 Authors: Steffen Heim, Sylvia Chan-Olmsted, Claudia Fantapié Altobelli, Michael Fretschner, Lisa-Charlotte Wolter

 This summary was written by Dana Hackley, Ph.D.


Posted: May 5, 2023
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