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Report finds news brands are less likely to be correctly attributed from search engines and social media

19 Jul 2017

Do people remember the news brand when they visit a story via social media or through search engines? 

The growth of social media and other aggregators over the last few years has changed the nature of online consumption. In order to answer the above question we used a YouGov panel to automatically track website usage by a representative sample of UK internet users who were then served a survey to see if they could remember the brand. We found that less than half could remember the name of the news brand for a particular story when coming from search engines or social media. Users were more likely to remember the brand via social media and search engines when they read a story from their main source of news. Young people were also more likely to correctly attribute a news brand when coming from social media compared with older respondents.

News brands are remembered less than half the time, when accessed via distributed platforms like social media and search. By contrast, most people were likely to remember the platform through which the news content was found (e.g. Facebook, Twitter or Google). These findings reinforce the idea that platforms are getting more credit than publishers for the news content they distribute. Despite this, the study also shows that some brands like the BBC, The Guardian and Buzzfeed are able to achieve much higher levels of correct attribution through strong branding or distinctive content – even when accessed via distributed platforms.

Read the report