Brand attribution and path attribution - Reuters News Agency

Brand attribution and path attribution

Do people remember where they saw your story and how they found it?

By Alice Rizzo | Sep 15, 2017

Distributed environments remain both a challenge and opportunity for media organizations. Through research we know that brand attribution varies signficiantly when a news story is accessed directly, from search or from social. Yet many news brands have distributed media strategies, fully dependent on search and social. BuzzFeed, has a reputation for producing distinctive content, designed for Facebook.

To get an idea of how audiences are recalling news sources and how they arrived to the story, let’s explore numbers1 associated with brand attribution and path attribution…

1. Direct – 81% correctly attribute the news brand.

When news stories are accessed directly, they are more likely to be correctly attributed, in fact 81% recall the news brand that produced the story. This is mainly because news brands that have built and marketed powerful news destinations often have a loyal readership.

When it comes to brand attribution, websites and apps (direct access) remain slightly ahead of the other main paths –– search and social.

However, if we group together side door access such as search, social, emails and alerts then direct access isn’t the main path, as side door access collectively represents 65%.


2. Search engines – 37% correctly attributed a story discovered through search.

Only 37% could remember the brand of news stories they discovered through search. However, the path was remembered by 57%. This reinforces the idea that platforms might be getting more credit than publishers.

Brands that are remembered on search are ones who have emphasized SEO and frequently write content that provides information asked in search queries.

Overall, the more familiar people are with the tone and style of a particular news brand, the more likely they are to pick it out from a list of search results.


3. Social media – 47% of people who read a news story on social media remembered the brand.

47% of people who read a news story on social media remembered the brand behind the story. When accessed via Facebook, brand attribution was 44%, whereas on Twitter it was 55%.

As audiences continue to read news more frequently on mobile, social seems better tailored to this form of consumption.

However, while brand recognition is under 50%, path attribution for social is 67%. This confirms the same insight from search –– here the platform seems to get the credit more often than the news brand.

1. Data from Reuters Institute Brand Attribution Report 2017.

Want more insights on brand attribution and path attribution? Find some surprising and informative insights in the Reuters Institute’s Brand Attribution report…