Wednesday, January 2, 2008


BRANDWEEK; December 31, 2007;--Eric Newman

The internet has put word of mouth on steroids!  How “loud” has this category become? W-O-M marketing is projected to hit $1.3 billion this year, up almost 33% from $981 million in 2006, per PQ Media, Stamford, Conn.

And the word is definitely spreading: Spending is expected to triple by 2011.

Two main factors are contributing to its growth: The explosion of communications on the Internet and the acceptance of W-O-M as a separate discipline beyond ads and public relations, according to Paul Rand, vp at the Word of Mouth Marketing Assn., Chicago.

The marketing world “is evolving from ‘interrupt me’ to ‘engage me’ when it comes to consumer interactions,” said Rand. “It is a fundamental shift in the way marketers approach consumers with their message.”

Part of that shift has occurred because of “the latency effect,” said Pete Blackshaw, evp-Nielsen Online Strategic Services, Cincinnati, and one of the founders of WOMMA. (Nielsen Online Strategic Services and Brandweek are divisions of Nielsen Co.)

According to Blackshaw, this is the digital trail consumers are leaving with their product recommendations on e-commerce and social networking sites as well as blogs. “The Internet has put word-of-mouth on steroids, with archived commentary and product reviews that make a big impact,” said Blackshaw. “The fastest growing sources of indexable content in Google’s search engine are first-person testimonials.”

Some industry-watchers are concerned that there could be too much chatter. “[2008] will be a real torture test for W-O-M in the sense of guaranteeing authenticity . . . because [marketers] are looking for a quick hit in a medium that essentially is a long-term strategy,” said Blackshaw. “That can lead to questionable practices.”

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