Record audiences have been flocking to news sites to inform themselves under lockdown. But while new brands work to provide accurate reporting to readers, misinformation has also been rife.
Brands too are finding they have a role to play in delivering accurate, timely answers to win and maintain customer trust and to flag ‘fake coronavirus cures’ that find their way online.
Jon Buss, managing director, UK and northern Europe at Yext, believes the ongoing pandemic has “magnified” the issue of misinformation online.
“We've become conditioned that if we ask questions, we should get an answer, and this has never been more necessary than today,” Buss explained in an interview filmed for The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival. “Because if you're only allowed to go out for essential items, you want to know that the opening times are correct – especially for vulnerable shoppers.”
Positioned as a search experience company, Yext helps companies ensure that user search queries about products and services are answered by the brands behind them.
Buss shares that search activity related to essential services such as groceries and money management has gone through the roof during the lockdown. "We've seen a 385% increase of searches across the grocery sector. And there has been a massive decline in searches for restaurants over the last few weeks," he says.
One sector struggling to supply enough accurate information is banking and finance. "We've seen a massive peak in questions and searches for mortgage holidays and business loans. This is where the banks are struggling. How do you know if you're getting the right information?" Buss asks.
He notes that, with call centres undermanned, the usual routes to information available to consumers are under strain. Buss says Yext has been helping companies to deal with this spike, and has found it has an important role ensuring people can find brand-verified answers straight from source, on whichever platform they're using.
“We’ve got direct integrations into all the mapping platforms, so we can make sure all our information from stores is all correct, everywhere,” Buss said. "We've been working with big grocery chains to help them understand our technology and how best they can be updating information."