How Do Executives Feel About Content and Ads?

December 16, 2016

This article is included in these additional categories:

Content Marketing | Digital | Email | Mobile Phone | Social Media | Video

Executives around the world are active on social media but primarily get their news from email, says Quartz in reporting the results of a new survey. The study also found openness to advertising, though more so for sponsored content than for interruptive ads.

Morning email newsletters might be the best way to reach executives, per the study: three-quarters of respondents reporting being most likely to consume news in the morning, while virtually all (94%) get their news from email newsletters. Besides newsletters, a majority also get their news from websites (89%), news apps (74%) and podcasts (51%), with only a minority using video (46%).

A previous study from Quartz had found email newsletters to also be the top source of industry news for executives, edging industry and general news sites.

Media brands (80%) prove more popular than aggregators (56%) as news sources, per this latest report. Regardless of the content, the source matters: trust in the news brand is as important as the topic’s relevance to their work when executives decide to click on a link. Moreover, with almost 9 in 10 executives likely to share good content, the source of that content is said to almost always (85%) influence the decision to share the content.

Separate research from the Economist Group suggests that credible data might be as important – if not more important – than familiarity with the source: in its study, the Economist Group found that to establish thought leadership as being trustworthy, the most important factors identified by executive consumers of content are the quality or nature of research analysis and the presence of credible data.

Returning to the Quartz study, charts and data (47%) are the second-most popular type of content for sharing, with long-form articles (84%) easily the most likely to be shared.

Executives Open to Sponsored Content

Charts and data are also important in sponsored content, per the survey’s results. A majority (57%) reported that exclusive data would be a sponsor content topic that interests them, though that fell behind the most interesting topics, industry analysis (85%) and insights from company experts (61%).

Nevertheless, when it comes to the various formats and features that tend to draw executives into a piece of content, data visualizations (68%) are most appreciated, followed by charts (52%) and photography (52%).

Overall, the study results indicate a willingness on the part of executives to engage with sponsored content. For example, more than 8 in 10 said they are open to content from brands, as long as it’s high-quality and clearly labeled. Moreover, about three-quarters said that the last piece of sponsor content they read was interesting, informative and valuable. Interestingly, there were some contrasting age-related trends in play: while younger executives were more open to consuming content from brands, older executives were more likely to have found the last they read valuable.

Further cementing their openness to sponsored content were results indicating that for half of respondents, the last time they interacted on purpose with an ad, it was either an article (33%) or video (17%) produced by a brand. And while auto-play audio or video ads (28%) and interstitials (22%) are considered to be the least effective ads by more than one-fifth of the respondents, just 4% said the same about sponsor content.

Finally, mobile and social should not be forgotten in the content or advertising picture: this year 59% of executives reported primarily getting the news on their phones, up from 41% just a couple of years ago. Additionally, 40% cited a mobile ad as the last ad they remember seeing or interacting with, more than twice the proportion from 2014 (18%).

As for social media, 89% reported using social platforms, with LinkedIn and Facebook the most popular. Six in 10 intentionally use social media to get the news, with Twitter this time getting the nod as the most popular platform.

About the Data: The study methodology is described in part as follows:

“The Quartz Global Executives Study was produced by the marketing team at Quartz. These data were sourced from a 47-question survey of 1,357 global executives, administered in September and October 2016. The respondent pool consisted of business leaders in 97 countries and 31 industries. C-level executives were the most highly represented group by job title (50% of respondents); others in the pool included managing partners, managing directors, VPs, directors, general managers, and board members. Industries represented include: consulting and business services (21% of respondents); finance (14%); media and advertising (13%); technology (11%); healthcare and life sciences (4%); retail and luxury goods (4%); and others (34%). The four largest industry segments were selected for this analysis. Distribution of respondents across age ranges was: under 25 (2%); 25-34 (13%); 35-44 (18%); 45-54 (26%); 55-64 (24%); 65 and older (16%)… Respondents were sourced via the Quartz audience, partner channels, LinkedIn, and Facebook.”

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