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16 June 2016

Emerging Trends & The Edelman Cloverleaf

Consumer Trends & Insight, Media, Trust

Edelman UK recently hosted the launch of the Reuters Institute for the study of Journalism’s Digital News Report 2016 – a study in 26 countries of the way people consume news and information. Among the key findings was more consumers using social media as a source for news and information. The actual brands that provide the news becoming less important to consumers than the social routes to reaching them.

This shift around the way that content is discovered, combined with other global trends we’re seeing and insights from our own Edelman Trust Barometer are having a profound impact on the ways we need to work to reach many of our target audiences.

We see three major disruptions that are changing how content is discovered, consumed and monetised.


Accessing news and information via social channels means that content discovery is now a highly personalised experience where a network of ‘friends’ filter and curate the news that is shared.

Smartphone usage is driving the personalisation trend. It’s up – 53% saying they use their smartphones to access news and information. People using smartphones are also more likely to use social channels to access news.

Auto generated recommendations mean that consumers are increasingly served up news and information based on what platforms know about you, and those around you. Although users are concerned about these algorithms the convenience they offer means that algorithms that take account of what you’ve read before come out ahead of editors in the report as a preferred curator, by a margin of 36% vs 30%.

All of these factors mean that sometimes great stories fail to reach audiences because of the friends they keep, the channels they access and their own personal views.


Perversely while more of us are seeing a narrower range of information, sources and volume of content proliferate. Instagram is only five years old and yet has 400m plus monthly active users. And yet….we still only have one brain. This means a lot of information is consumed in increasingly bite-sized pieces.

Advertiser Frustration

While ever more content is created, more and more ways are designed to keep it at bay. According to the Digital News Report 2016 ad-blocking is running at anywhere between 10% and 38% (21% in the UK). The use of ad blockers is likely to increase with ad-blocking apps and browsers now available for Apple and Android phones – a third of those surveyed saying they plan to install an ad-blocker on their smartphone.

The Edelman Cloverleaf

These trends have all come together to create what one observer has called “not just a perfect storm, but a supervolcano” in the battle for both access and attention with implications for how we create meaningful communications programmes.

The Edelman Cloverleaf reflects our holistic point of view on the evolving media landscape and the implications for communications marketing programmes. It’s a framework that guides how we extend the lifecycle of a narrative to promote a brand or business, or shorten it to protect it.

Brands must enable healthy living

Platforms are where the journey to content often begins, but the content and stories people discover and engage with comes, in large part, from the three overlapping groups of publishers in the centre of the cloverleaf. The interconnectedness of them all means that powerful storytelling is often dependent on the complex ecosystem as a whole.

To read a full analysis of Cloverleaf Platforms, Publishers and what it all means, please click here. For full findings of the surveys mentioned, visit the Digital News Report and the Edelman Trust Barometer.

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