Engage or estrange? What content do consumers want?

OPENSEED Digital Consultancy

In the internet age, content remains king for brands looking to start a conversation with their consumer, but not all content is equal, according to the latest survey by Adobe.

So, what engages and what estranges your audience in 2019? Here’s a great guide to good content as the audience becomes more astute than ever before in a digital marketing era.

The survey

In December last year Adobe surveyed 1000 US consumers in a bid to better understand what makes or breaks a brand content strategy.

They found:

  • Most consumers, and particularly Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z multi-screen constantly.
  • US consumers estimate they engage with their devices on average 8.8 hours a day.
  • That engagement increases markedly in Millennials and Generation Z, who engage with their devices about 11 hours a day
  • In marketing, omnichannel offerings are important. A brand’s website and physical store are used most often when researching an item to purchase.
  • Social media and video are emerging in importance, particularly when it comes to Gen Z and Millennials.
  • Facebook and YouTube are the most trusted social networks.
  • Consumers are intolerant of content that is poorly written and not well designed (not displayed well or not quick to load across devices, with many respondents of all ages, saying they would abandon the content if faces with that scenario.

Where people buy

Adobe noted a physical location remains the primary place where consumers engage with a brand and make purchases, although online marketplaces and a brand’s website follow very closely behind.

Their survey indicated:

  • 49 per cent of people make purchases instore
  • 48 per cent utilise online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay
  • 44 per cent buy via a brand’s website
  • 16 per cent use the brand’s mobile app to make a purchase
  • 11 per cent buy over the phone
  • 10 per cent purchase via a smart speaker or voice assistant (although this trend is quickly increasing, rising 165 per cent year on year)

“Brand websites are important at all stages of a purchase,” they stated. “However, younger generations find social networks and video channels very important when researching products and for post-purchase interactions.”

The content customers seek

When it comes to the type of content a brand’s audience is happy to consume, accurate and informative rank as the two main priorities, indicating people are still looking for the content that helps them make a purchasing decision.

Meanwhile for Millennials, entertainment is also an important factor.

The survey found 31 per cent of consumers sought content that was accurate, 28 per cent were looking for informative content, 17 per cent preferred content that was simple, eight per cent overall wanted something entertaining (this figure increased to 15 per cent for Millennials), 7 per cent wanted something they could interact with, 6 per cent wanted their content personalised, and four per cent wanted something that was beautifully designed.

The content that turns customers off

Spam email ranked as the most likely content strategy to turn consumers away from a brand, with 42 per cent indicating they found spam email frustrating.

This was followed by pages that were too slow to load, which irritated 35 per cent of people, irrelevant offers, that annoyed 29 per cent and content that was too hard to find or took too many screens to locate, which also irritated 29 per cent of people.

Meanwhile, 27 per cent of people became irritated when content wasn’t available, 23 per cent were frustrated at irrelevant recommendations, 22 per cent switched off when the design was cluttered, and 13 per cent became annoyed at crowded navigation panes.


  • When content/images won’t load – 55 per cent of people stop looking, 32 per cent switch devices and 16 per cent keep going
  • When people have trouble interacting with content on a device – 52 per cent stop looking, 34 per cent switch devices and only 15 per cent keep going
  • When content is too long – 51 per cent stop looking, 25 per cent switch devices and only 24 per cent keep going
  • When content takes too long to load – 51 per cent stop looking, 31 per cent switch devices and only 18 per cent keep going
  • When video is slow/resolution is poor – 50 per cent stop looking, 32 per cent switch devices and only 18 per cent keep going
  • When content is not displaying well on their current device – 45 per cent stop looking, 39 per cent switch devices and only 16 per cent keep going

“More than half of consumers would stop doing what they were doing if they encountered issues, other than when content is not displaying well on their current device,” Adobe notes.

Content problems

Further trends also emerged when it came to the quality of the content or how personalised it was.

Although most people (48 per cent) indicated their recent experience with a brand website was “good”, 44 per cent were neutral and just eight per cent indicated the interaction had been poor. But there were definite factors that irked an audience.

These included:

  • Too wordy or poorly worded content – 39 per cent
  • Poorly designed content – 28 per cent
  • Content that was so personalised it was creepy – 25 per cent
  • Old or stale content – 23 per cent
  • Content that wasn’t personalised or relevant – 22 per cent
  • Content that wasn’t optimised to their device -21 per cent
  • Content that did not contain video or imagery – 17 per cent
  • Content related to items they had already purchased – 16 per cent

And three out of five people said any of the above would prevent them making a purchase, while half of all said an influx of content that was not relevant or pertinent to them would stop them making a purchase from a brand.

What people share

It comes as little surprise, but older generations are less likely to share content. Just under a third say they never share and they are also less likely to trust social media channels, or share information about themselves with brands.

Meanwhile, Millennials will happily share their demographic, personal, behavioural or geographic information with brands, and men are less likely to share personal information than women.

Where people share

Facebook is the most trusted social media channel, with 26 per cent of survey respondents indicating out of all avenues their trust is most likely to lie there. That’s followed by Youtube, which 16 per cent of users trust, LinkedIn (9 per cent), Instagram (8 per cent), Twitter (5 per cent), and Snapchat (3 per cent).

Although, when it comes to Snapchat Gen Z breaks the trend indicating 22 per cent of them trust this channel.

Trusted family and friends

As a further indication of how much we value the opinion of our peers, Adobe found the content that is most trusted is likely to have been shared by family and friends. Just under half of all content (49 per cent) is shared by family and friends and 38 per cent of people then trust it.


  • Just under a quarter of all content (23 per cent) comes from an online news source, and 24 per cent of people are likely to trust that.
  • 22 per cent of all content shared comes from brands the customer buys from, with just 19 per cent trusting it
  • 21 per cent comes from influencers on Youtube or social media, and 11 per cent of people trust it
  • 18 per cent comes from a consumer or review site and 27 per cent of people trust that
  • 17 per cent comes from a traditional broadcast network, and 22 per cent of people trust it
  • 15 per cent comes from a traditional entertainment celebrity and 8 per cent of people trust it
  • 13 per cent comes from an online blog and 9 per cent of people trust it
  • 11 per cent comes from an academic and 15 per cent of people trust it
  • 11 per cent comes from an elected government official and just 9 per cent of people trust that

The final word

The upshot of these findings is there is that content is an art that is constantly evolving and where the generation of the user plays a role in its marketing success.

Brands need to understand that any content – whether video, meme, recommendation or article, needs to be well-researched, professionally written, concise and above all relevant. But there’s a fine line to tread between personalised and creepy.

People may be more willing than ever to hand over their data and preferences, but brands still have privacy concerns to allay.

Meanwhile, the realm of content is changing, with imagery, video and succinct messaging playing a more important role.

Those brands who manage the balance between relevant, informative but not overly intrusive are best placed to engage in a consistent conversation with their consumer, who will repay them by sharing the information they offer.

About Openseed

At Openseed we specialise in planting the seeds of customer reach through compelling brands and SEO optimised websites. We then nurture kernel of great content, devising strategies and storytelling to support business in their ongoing conversation with their customer. Ultimately it reaps an ongoing harvest that delivers business real and proven results.

You can learn more about our services here or contact us directly to start that customer conversation.