This is a cross-post from my company blog. 

CNN has released the results of what I deem a very powerful study, making the connection between all  of the news-sharing madness happening across the social space, and how advertisers benefit. The global research study into the power of news and recommendation, called POWNAR, was pretty high-tech. According to CNN, it included: “a thorough semiotic analysis, neuro-marketing techniques, news tracking and an ad effectiveness survey to demonstrate that shared news drives global uplifts in brand metrics.”

Having worked at six news organizations, most recently WRAL, I am very familiar with the conversations surrounding the popularity of news sharing and the perplexities that have come with properly defining exactly how the news organizations, which create the content being shared, can capitalize on it all.

At first, the main area of concern was the fact that the content was moving beyond the news website to social networking sites. (“What, they’re taking our content and posting it on Facebook? My word!”)

News managers were finally able to move past that once everyone adopted the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality, which brought in a flurry of “share this” widgets on pretty much every news story on mainstream news website.  These tools encourage sharing and have reduced it to a single click.

I sat in a number of meetings trying to convince the higher-ups that this sharing was a good thing and if the news organization actually got involved in these social networks and started communicating with viewers and readers directly, it would be a testament to the company’s ability to adapt in the new media space.  It would also further humanize the brand.

Another hurdle successfully cleared. I say this because I’m sure you’ve seen the hundreds of journalists on Twitter, heard the pleas from news anchors to “friend us on Facebook” and read the crawls underneath Larry King and Anderson Cooper’s  introductions to their  shows telling you to follow them on Twitter. I don’t need to convince you that news organizations have embraced the power their information yields across social media platforms.

But back to the point….

All of this news sharing has a real benefit to advertisers. Messaging connected to stories, or embedded  in content that’s recommended by friends through social channels receives a serious uplift, much like the content itself.

Here are a few excerpts of the findings of this study:

  • The global online survey showed that people who received news content from a friend or associate via social media, were 19% more likely to recommend the brand that advertised around that story to others and 27% more likely to favour that brand themselves.
  • The results from POWNAR also showed that video pre-roll advertising had overall a superior branding effect when appearing around news content shared in social media, in comparison to display banner advertising.

There is a lot more insight to be gleaned from this research, and I encourage you to read it in its entirety. There is nothing but opportunity in these findings. The challenge now is to use what you know about sharing and develop marketing and advertising strategies around that.

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