June 15, 2015

About a third of news consumers in both the United States and the United Kingdom feel tricked or let down by sponsored content or native advertising, according to a new report released this evening by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

The 2015 Digital News Report also reveals that half of news consumers surveyed grudgingly accept sponsored content on the basis that it helps provide them with free news. But more than a quarter think less highly of the news outlet that publishes native advertising or sponsored content. From the report:

There is a perception that readers are disappointed or feel deceived if they later find out content was sponsored by a brand or company. In the UK, a third (33%) have felt disappointed or deceived, a level that rises to more than four in ten (43%) in the US. The higher figure in the US could be [due] to the fact that native advertising is more prevalent there.There are stark differences by age, with younger respondents considerably less likely to feel they are being ‘deceived’ by native content.

The findings come near the end of the report, which runs more than 100 pages and contains research on topics such as the business of journalism, audience behavior and news distribution trends. The primary takeaways of the report are in line with the prevailing wisdom of the media business: continuing mobile audience growth, particularly among news consumers who own smartphones; the continuing decline of print readership alongside the ascendence of social media; the ongoing trend toward video consumption. Some of the key takeaways:

  • More than ever, news consumers are turning to video. But that number remained relatively consistent between 2014 and 2015 for both Germany (18 percent) and the U.S. (30 percent).
  • Television remains a key news source in most markets. Although in the United States, television news has been eclipsed by online news — including social media — broadcast news remains an important part of the media diet. In the UK, Germany, France and Japan, TV is the most-consumed news source.
  • Use of social media continues to climb. In the U.S., 40 percent of those surveyed said they used social media within the last week as a source of news, compared to slightly more than 20 percent in 2012. Over that same time period, the number of individuals who said they’d consulted a print publication for news declined to about 20 percent from roughly 40 percent.

Here’s a link to the full report. A a summary of the findings can be found here.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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