​A poll of 1,000 Americans discovers that internet users don't mind web content when it speaks to their interests.

​Content marketing is already a widely used practice in the United States. Brands see the value of storytelling online, with 86 percent of B2Cs and 91 percent of B2Bs engaging in content writing as a way to engage new and existing customers. But what do their audiences really think?

Americans have been resistant on online advertisements and promotional material in the past, citing ads in social media streams as distracting and disruptive. However, a new poll commissioned by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) shows that U.S. internet users may value custom content, even when its advertising material. Ninety-two percent of 1,000 surveyed Americans agree that free news content, blog content and video content are either “somewhat” or “extremely” important to the overall value of the internet.

In fact, fewer than 10 percent of the people polled would prefer the internet to minimize the volume of ads and promotional content found in search results. Seventy-five percent surveyed said they prefer the ‘net to continue to host highly accessible information. Overall, the DAA poll found that, while internet users don’t mind free content and online ads, they prefer brands to tailor subject matter to their interests. Nearly 70 percent of polled consumers said they prefer marketers customize ads to reflect buyers’ interests. Content analytics and other social listening techniques can help marketers gain clear insight into their customers’ personas, improving the value of internet ads published in search results and elsewhere.

Interestingly, the DAA’s poll classified branded content as web ads despite materials often using SEO to attract the attention of organic traffic. The poll discovered that 42 percent of respondents claim they have purchased products or services after viewing or clicking on an online ad. More, 50 percent of respondents said online advertising helped them save money on various purchases, and 58 percent indicated that internet ads helped them to discover new deals.

Content marketers might consider their blog content and news posts very different from traditional search ads, but consumers may see them as straightforward promotional collateral, and that’s not a bad thing according to the DAA poll. It’s clear that web users have grown comfortable with the web as we know it, and people embrace free content, in all of its forms, today. More companies should consider how they can add competitive value; Brafton has reported that brand journalism continues to grow in the business world, and 98 percent of U.S. organizations use online newsrooms to tell brand stories and engage clients online.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.