This year, building trust means building profit

By Kim Portrate | Sponsored

In the coming 12 months, businesses will have to battle the twin challenges of declining consumer confidence and a lack of trust in the institutions they thought would help them make ends meet. But research shows trust builds profit. Brands need to partner with organisations that help, not hinder, this challenge. Kim Portrate explains.

Building and maintaining your brand’s reputation is a delicate dance, especially when money is tight for consumers.

To do it, you must create positive associations in the mind of your customer. And no brand is built on its own. Partnerships are required.

At the heart of this is trust. And given the events of 2023, consumer trust is fragile. We all know that if a brand loses the trust of its customers, it’ll soon lose a whole lot more. 

Roy Morgan research tells us Australians are more distrustful of businesses than ever before. Data breaches, corporate scandals and poor behaviour have consumer’s backs up. To build a brand that consumers trust, it pays to join forces with like-minded businesses. This is particularly important when it comes to aligning with media organisations.

What does that mean for your brand as we enter the new year?

It means you need to choose the organisations you align with carefully.

Brand safety has long referred to the placement of advertising in environments that generate positive perceptions. Brand-safe environments provide assurances through a series of checks and balances that include technology, regulation and human-led oversight.

Consumers are also demanding brands be more than trustworthy. They expect to be offered assistance – at the checkout, in sustainability efforts and in protecting their personal data. In return, they will choose brands that meet their expectations.

The trust/profit relationship

Speaking at the Future of TV Advertising Global conference in late 2023, Peter Field, one of the godfathers of effectiveness, posited the theory that brand trust is intrinsically linked to profit. 

Calling on 20 years of campaign data from the IPA database, Field said: “What we see is a massively strengthening relationship between the trust that we build in the brand through our advertising and the profit we generate for that brand in market.”

According to Field’s research, two decades ago, trust was the least important of the seven mental availability metrics for brands. Today, he says, trust is second only to the perceived quality of a brand.

This relationship has grown even stronger driven by fake news and increased distrust in online sources. As a result, trust in legacy media continues to rise.

Field concluded: “We need to be very careful about which media we choose because trust is a big issue for growth and profitability.”

To drive the point home, in 2023, the Edelman Trust Barometer found trust in the brands we buy is more important today than ever before. The research also found that when consumers trust a brand, they are more likely to purchase its products, stay loyal and advocate for the brand.

With that in mind, advertisers need to do some homework before handing their brands over to media owners and publishers.

The rise and rise of ESG and what it means for your media choices

According to research from McKinsey, matters of ESG – environmental, social and governance – are more also important to today’s consumers. Businesses that put a stake in the ground on these issues are seeing disproportionate growth.

No longer a nice to have, consumers expect brands to prioritise these matters. And if they don’t, they’re more likely than ever before to vote with their wallets. McKinsey found that higher-income households, urban and suburban residents, and households with children were more likely to buy products that made one or more ESG-related claims.

If your brand is against hate speech, cyberbullying or the sharing of misinformation, then it makes sense for you to align with media platforms that share these values and avoid the online spaces and places where this abhorrent behaviour takes place.

Cautionary tales of brand safety

In today’s increasingly fragmented media landscape, not all platforms can give you the same assurances of trust and safety. The media is littered with cautionary tales.

Take X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, which has seen advertisers jump ship in droves. Last year, a bogus account posted that pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly would be providing free insulin to customers. Meanwhile, Facebook is fighting a losing battle against gruesome video uploads from the Israel-Hamas conflict. Closer to home, in 2022, a billboard in Brisbane was hacked streaming porn to drivers on a major highway.

Brand safety has ramifications for your customers and their level of trust in your brand. An environment that is not brand-safe is less trusted. In turn, so are the advertising messages the platform carries. And that’s even more difficult to manage if your ads are being served programmatically.

Safe doesn't mean a lack of opportunity. It means a brilliant garden for you to play in because you know where you are. By advertising in a “safe” environment, the halo on your brand is bigger and stronger.

So before you allocate your media budget this year, ask yourself, can you trust your brand will be safe? And, perhaps more importantly, will your customers trust it where it is placed?

Get it right and you’ll be on track to build brand trust and profits.

Kim Portrate is the CEO of ThinkTV.

 To find out more, check out Peter Field’s no BS advice for marketers and their media agencies here.

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