The findings were based on an in-person controlled lab test in which the relative impact of three different online content types (expert reviews, branded content, and user reviews) was measured on 900 consumers. Specifically, the researchers examined how the content affected awareness/familiarity, perceptions (likeability), and purchase consideration for nine products.
Expert reviews (credible, third-party online articles) were the most effective online content type across all three stages of the purchase process, increasing purchase consideration 11%, affinity 12%, and familiarity 15%, Nielsen found.
On average, expert content lifted familiarity 88% more than branded content, and 50% more than user reviews; affinity, 50% more than branded content and 20% more than user reviews; and purchase consideration, 38% more than branded content and 83% more than user reviews.
Below, additional key findings from the report.
Impact by Product Type
- To test the impact across various categories, respondents were shown expert reviews, branded content, and user reviews for nine products: Auto insurance, new cars, high-end HDTV sets, smartphones, dryers, child seats, digital cameras, video games, and electric toothbrushes.
- Expert content provided the most familiarity lift for seven out of the nine products, the most affinity lift for five of the nine products, and the most purchase intent lift for six of the nine products.
- For branded content, lift was strongest in categories where product specs are a critical part of the part of the decision making process, such as cameras.
- User reviews were successful in categories where users tend to have a higher degree of product expertise, such as videogames.
Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.
LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji