LONDON: When it comes to content discovery and online shopping, more than half of online Britons rely on a handful of trusted websites or recommendations from friends rather than surfing the internet, according to new research.

Global media agency Carat analysed data from its Consumer Connection System – a proprietary research and insight tool surveying 11,000 British consumers and their media habits – to show that 55% of internet users in the UK only used two or three sites when purchasing or looking for content, a trend that has major implications for publishes and advertisers.

The top five trusted sites for content in the UK, according to Carat, included three belonging to broadcasters – BBC, BBC Online and ITV – as well as retail giant Amazon and search engine Google.  

The study also revealed that 41% of people felt overwhelmed by the wealth of choice on the web, making it harder for them to decide what to buy.

And 26% of respondents felt the volume of information on the net made it hard for them to find what they were looking for when shopping online.

Consequently, many are turning to friends for advice. One third preferred to trust friends' recommendations on social media rather than ads. Further, 44% of users said they looked at content uploaded by friends at least once a week and 29% of people checked posts shared by friends at least once a day.

This was especially true of Millennials, 49% of whom trusted personal recommendations from friends more than ads; 33% indicated they would visit a site if recommended via a social network.

Commenting on the findings, Dan Hagen, Chief Strategy Officer at Carat, said "This opens several interesting opportunities and challenges for brands.

"Smart content, and crucially, distribution strategies combined with innovative approaches to partnership can help advertisers redefine their content strategies, cutting through this noise to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time, driving real business value."

Data sourced from Carat; additional content by Warc staff