Local News’ “Halo of Trust”

It’s no surprise Facebook is bringing more local news stories to users – according to a survey from Videa, most respondents said they trusted local news more than national news. Videa’s President, Shereta Williams, explains the “halo of trust” in the era of fake news, and how local stations can take advantage of evolving viewing habits.

Cynopsis: Why is local news growing in importance in the current media landscape?

Shereta Williams: In its 2018 U.S. Local Advertising Forecast, BIA/Kelsey predicted local TV stations would see a 5.2 percent growth in total ad spend—from $143.8 billion last year to $151.2 billion this year. This growth is significant and can be attributed to several factors. The main factor we see here at Videa is it being an election year. This means a flurry of political ads on the local level. It will be interesting this year to see how local stations and station groups choose to utilize automated solutions in what promises to be a fast-moving and dollar rich electoral season.

2018 should also be an interesting year for consumer trust in social media, with the continued rise of fake news, especially across platforms like Twitter and Facebook. A Videa survey from last year brought social media in as the second choice behind television, with 19% of consumers saying they get local news content from social media. It’ll be interesting to see how this number is impacted by the changes Facebook is making with their newsfeed.

Cynopsis: What is the difference in the level of trust in local versus national news? What might explain the difference?

Williams: Videa conducted a survey on this very subject in June of 2017 that looked at the trust in local versus national news. We found 61 percent of the 1,145 U.S. consumers surveyed, indicated that they have some, or a lot of, trust in the information they get from local news organizations compared to 38 percent who say they trust national news more. In terms of where consumers are getting news from, TV reigned supreme as the most common with a total of 59 percent, proving the value of TV over other platforms like social media and online.

The difference can be explained simply in the fact that U.S. consumers are highly skeptical of news sources on the heels of the last political season. They’re turning to their local news stations because they feel the news coming from those stations is more viable and unbiased. There is more of a personal connection and a halo of trust for local news because TV stations are a part of the communities they serve and participants in events that matter to those communities.

Cynopsis: What new competitors for viewers will emerge in 2018?

Williams: Viewers will continue to have a wide range of content available on multiple platforms to choose from. The most significant shift in viewing is occurring on over-the-top television services such as Hulu and Netflix. We are also seeing movement from Facebook into the live TV space, as well Snapchat. So, it will be interesting to see how those efforts play out with viewers. However, given that much of the content on these other platforms is produced by the same companies who dominate linear TV, I’m not sure whether it’s competition or just additional ways to serve existing viewers and new viewers.

Cynopsis: How do you expect viewer habits to change, and how can local stations take advantage?

Williams: Viewer habits will continue the same trajectory that they have been on for the past few years – with more and more options, especially OTT, at their disposal. Advertisers can reach these disparate audiences by utilizing tools that provide efficiencies of scale and timing, while local stations can hold viewer attention by continuing to be worthy of their trust (as a reliable source of news) and distributing their content across many different platforms. The market has opportunities for everyone, especially as automated TV takes hold and enables stations to reaggregate their audiences across all their distribution platforms to deliver the reach power of local TV paired with greater accountability from programmatic platforms.

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at Lynn@Cynopsis.com.

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