Archive for the ‘Buzz Marketing’ Category

WOM Research: Moms Buzz about Brands

May 2, 2008

Marketing VOX

New and expecting mothers have over 109 word-of-mouth conversations per week about products, services and brands.

Most brands are discussed in a positive context and are considered highly credible by other moms, according to a Keller Fay study conducted for BabyCenter, MarketingCharts writes.

Per day, the group engages in one-third more word-of-mouth (WOM) conversation than the total public or women in general, the study found:


Other findings:

  • 60 percent of conversations in the studied group include a recommendation to buy, try or consider the brands under discussion.
    • Positive brand sentiment outweighs negative by a 10-to-1 margin.
    • In shopping, retail, and apparel, 69 percent of the group is likely to purchase based on what they heard.
  • The group has higher WOM credibility than the total public and total women — in various capacities (e.g., propensity to pass along info, purchase intent):


  • They are more likely to qualify as WOM influencers (60 percent more so than the total public, 45 percent more so than total women).
  • Close to 1 in 5 pregnant and new moms were identified as WOM leaders or Conversation Catalysts (based on their recommending behavior and size of social network).

Content, Sources of Conversations

Pregnant and new moms are talking about technology, financial services, healthcare, food/dining, media/entertainment, packaged goods, shopping and retail experiences, the study found:

  • Half or more of those surveyed said they had least one conversation per day about the above topics.
  • Retailer, consumer electronic, and soft drink brands dominated the top 10 most talked about brands:


Most discussions about brands and products occur in person; discussion content, however, is often provided by various media, especially the internet and television:


“Moms have a natural desire to share ideas and information with each other. The rich content and community experience found on the internet plays a key role in driving these conversations,” said Tina Sharkey, chairman and global president, BabyCenter, LLC.

About the study: In Jan. ’08, Keller Fay interviewed a sample of 1,721 women (18+) who were pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or have one or more children age five or under.

The women were recruited through the BabyCenter 21st Century Mom Panel, BabyCenter’s website and an external panel. They completed an online survey about their face-to-face, telephone, or online conversations about brands across 14 categories during the 24 hours that immediately preceded the survey. Data for the total public and total women was drawn from Keller Fay’s TalkTrack, an ongoing study of word-of-mouth conversations in the US.


Your key demographic speaks its mind

April 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

By Jodi Harris

Want to know how to reach Gen Y consumers on their terms? In iMedia’s first survey with Peanut Labs, see what media they can’t live without, what makes a website trustworthy, their thoughts on ad-subsidized console games and more.

The questions plague every marketer at some point in his or her career. What do consumers really want? How do we earn their trust and loyalty? How do we know when we are strategically moving in the right direction in our campaigns, media buys and new product or service launches?

On a fundamental level, the answers should be easy. We are all, after all, consumers in our own rights, so shouldn’t we have some level of natural insight as to what motivates people to connect, click, engage and purchase one product vs. another?

Of course the answer to that is yes. And no.

Digital media’s ability to personalize messages has complicated the right-message-at-the-right-time equation, and generational differences in consumption habits has added dimensions that media buyers never dreamed of before. Furthermore, certain demographics are particularly tricky when it comes to delivering messages to them. In particular, those comprising Generation Y — who currently are enjoying their teens and twenties — have been distinguished from their generational predecessors by their reported reluctance to be marketed to. It’s not that they don’t want to use digital media to learn about new products — they just want to be part of the marketing dialogue and to select where, when and how they are pitched to.

Helping to build this dialogue is a company called Peanut Labs. Through survey applications integrated with the social networks that these segments live and breathe for, Peanut Labs provides direct access into the minds of Generation X, Generation Y, Boomers and other highly targeted custom consumer segments.

With this consumer mind-reading tool available, I decided to ask some industry experts what they wanted to know about media consumption habits of the under-30 set, and then get a sample of how these targets view media’s role in their lives.

Essential media
John Durham, managing general partner at Catalyst asked what one key media platform could this demographic not live without. It turns out that while both television and mobile phones have a tight grasp on young consumers, it’s the internet that is indispensable to 56 percent of the 309 survey respondents.

Media multitasking
Greg Smith, COO of document.write(‘Neo@Ogilvy’);Neo@Ogilvy , asked about activities that Gen Y engages in while watching TV. Reading, taking and making phone calls, and hanging out with friends all made the list. But, fortunately for the digital industry, the overwhelming majority — 57 percent — reported that they use the internet while watching TV.

Trust and time shifting
Doug Weaver of the Upstream Group inquired about what it takes to get viewers to watch a TV show at the exact day and time that it is broadcast, rather than time shifting their viewership with DVRs and online viewing. And it seems that good, old-fashioned quality content still triumphs in the digital age. Fifty-five percent of respondents reported that being an enthusiastic fan of a show is the biggest reason why they would watch it when it airs. Another good reason to watch on time: event viewing, such as the Oscars, the Super Bowl and other live sporting events.

Weaver also expressed an interest in the most important factor in Gen Y’s decisions on whether or not to trust a particular website and the information it gives. Surprisingly, the site’s association with a trusted media outlet or other trusted source trumped the recommendations of friends and family among survey respondents (44 percent vs. 21 percent).

Highly networked, yet disconnected by phone
Gen Yers have been cited as consumers who are always connected to their online lives through any and every means possible. But when Adam Broitman, director of emerging and creative strategy at Morpheus Media, asked how often they view content on a mobile device, the majority of responses indicated that mobile has not yet reached its tipping point as a web delivery platform.

While mobile content isn’t quite ready for primetime, social networking has certainly achieved mass penetration. Most respondents said they spend up to 30 percent of their average day on Facebook and other social networking sites; and 5 percent reported that networking takes up more than half their day.

Your site, your choice
Broitman also inquired about research that depicts Generation Y as a “pragmatic and future-oriented generation that expects its ideas to be heard and acknowledged.” Although the people in this group certainly do want to play a part in content providers’ decision processes, the majority of respondents (58 percent) prefer that a site retain its authority when incorporating users’ suggestions into its content.

Ads get game
Tom Hespos, president of Underscore Marketing was curious about consumers’ acceptance of advertising on one of the hottest new platforms: console gaming. According to respondents, 58 percent would be more likely to buy a console game if advertising could keep the price under $30, while only 10 percent would be less likely to buy.

It’s obvious that this target market has a lot to say, and loves to be asked for input. Now let’s just hope marketers are willing to really hear them.


March 20, 2008


1. Kit Kat Commercial:

Three minute video that encapsulates the life of a lowly cubicle worker, the mocking he receives from his coworkers and the relief he receives when he takes a break to grab a Kit Kat

2. My Dove Chocolate Website:

Now you can create your own mushy message and “speak from the heart” by personalizing a gift set of chocolates.

3. Schick Video Contest


Truck buyers and sellers can find happy harmony with low transaction rates. To generate some love, Kelly/Russell Advertising put together a few B2B spots that draw a parallel between finding mates online — a tricky business — and finding the perfect pickup.

5. Juice Salon Ad:

Neat take on escalator advertising, a model that’s been hurtin’ for creativity since its inception.

6. J&J Animated Shorts

An online video campaign for baby lotion with the goal of reaching young, web-savvy moms.

7. Avis Car Ads: Look Back, Three Days, Conference

It’s okay to cheat on your car, if only for a weekend. Avis is promoting car infidelity in a TV, print, online and outdoor campaign that uses a new tagline, “The Other Car.”

8. Del Monte’s New Online Game

Launched an online game for its Meaty Bone brand called “Mark Your Territory.”

9. Kenneth Cole Digital Campaigns
Kenneth Cole Productions puts itself out there with a new issues-based blog and video campaign.

10. Red Bull UG Surf Clips
360-degree camera technology lets Web users control a video’s perspective.

11. Toyota Scion Widget Campaign

New campaign for Scion line in which rich media banner ads doubled as uploadable widgets.

12. Discovery Channel: Live Earth

13. Swedish Armed Forces: Recruitment Test

14. Quamat: The Online How-to Guide

15. Jib Jab Valentine Video Grams

The Brand Fan Marketplace

March 20, 2008

Meet Jules (not her real name). Jules runs a site that should make every marketer sit up and take notice. Ikeahacker is one of the most amazing things on the Web.

One reason it’s amazing is the content. Another reason is the fact it exists in the first place.

The content is simple: Ikeahacker is a blog featuring projects people have engineered using Ikea products. Someone used a Sniglar baby changing table as the base for a wicked cool Blue Man Group style musical instrument, for example. There are tons of projects like this on the site. It’s the perfect resource for the DIY crowd. Each starts with a product you can buy off the shelf and includes step-by-step instructions to turn it into something completely new.

And these projects aren’t all created by Jules. She’s the moderator. Most of the projects are created and submitted by the community. Jules just posts the best ones.

Clearly, Jules is a fan of the Ikea brand. According to her “about” page, she has no affiliation with Ikea and isn’t getting any money directly from the company. The site is its own reward for her. As she jokes on her site, “Finally, I am of service to mankind (heh).”

Really, Jules has built an amazing asset for Ikea. It’s a classic case of a consumer creating new value for a brand. The good news is at least one Ikea employee has noticed and posted some words of encouragement in the comments. But there are a few other things on Ikeahacker that hint we’re on the verge of a wide-open market for fan sites to grow and prosper.

Let Brand Fans Profit

Online brand fans have, for the last few years, represented an important strategic opportunity for many companies. Marketers now understand the power not only of CGM (define) but also of product reviews from peers and the incredible distributive and persuasive power of a YouTube video.

Most brand fans see content creation as its own reward. This is certainly great and amazing, but we must be honest: this drive can only last so long in a person. There are piles and piles of dead sites, blogs, and forums out there, and many are dedicated to a particular brand. OK, someone created a fan site for your brand back in 2003 but hasn’t updated it since then. A potential buyer stumbling across it from a Web search will likely be underwhelmed.

But that needn’t be the case. In fact, a key plank in your strategic platform ought to be to make sure brand fans’ content remains fresh. You need to ensure brand fans’ content is as dynamic and motivating as that on your own site.

There are three things you must do to ensure brand fans’ work stays strong and consistent.

Find Them

This seems obvious, but make sure you consistently scan the CGM space to find any and all mentions of your brand. Technorati is good for this, as is Google Blog Search, BlogPulse, and a score of other services. Use the tools available on social networks like and Facebook as well to help find people who talk positively about you. If someone mentions you once, keep a note. If someone mentions you consistently, reach out to her.

Open the Info Spigot

Treat all brand fans like the media. Don’t lose sleep over philosophical debates about whether a blogger and a reporter are the same. If you have something to say, say it to the brand fans as early and deeply as you can. Give them FTP access to your marketing assets server. Let them listen in on conference calls. Whatever you can do to get them behind the curtain, do it.

Help Them Profit

This is the single most important aspect of the brand fan strategy in terms of keeping their sites alive and the information flowing. There are a lot of options for small publishers to generate revenue from their sites. Contextual ad networks like AdSense are ridiculously easy to set up, and there’s a whole new crop of widgets that can be installed directly from the Movable Type blogging interface. No publisher need be without a revenue source, unless they choose to be.

Of course, you need to have a solid line drawn. Don’t pay them for their content. Instead, make sure they’re able to get paid. I’ve consulted with a few organizations about hiring a person to actually work with brand fans to help them get their sites working for them. This person doesn’t build the site and certainly doesn’t post. But she does help them get ad networks installed, works with them to understand affiliate marketing, and consults with them on using free tracking tools.

A Positive Brand Fan Environment

Right now is an amazing time to be a brand fan. The ease of publishing, the nature of collaboration, and the availability of revenue is unprecedented. The only thing that’s really in short supply is motivation. Smart brands will focus on this, working like mad to make sure motivation stays as high as possible.

Is the influencer model dead or evolved?

March 19, 2008

It has been said that the influencer model is dead. That may be true offline, but it is alive — and essential to marketers — on the net.

Last year, Columbia University sociology professor Duncan Watts received media attention for criticizing the word-of-mouth influencer model, saying that it’s society’s susceptibility to a particular trend — not a select group of influencers per se — that dictates how successful a product or service will ultimately become. His assertion is that social connections are so complex and consumer trends so random, that there’s no way for marketers to effectively rely on select groups of influencers to quickly spread a message.

Watts’ theory may ring true when considering the way influence works offline. In that realm, it’s hard to pinpoint whether a large sample of consumers buy iPods because someone influential told them to, or because there are simply so many people around them actively using the product.

However, when you think about how consumers are influenced online, it’s a different story. Unlike in the physical world, internet users leave a trail of footprints as they traverse the web, and smart marketers can use these as a window into how consumers are influenced and by whom. To put it simply: In the online world, you can quantify the power of influence, and use this to drive successful marketing campaigns.

So that leaves the question: Is the influencer model dead, or has it simply taken new shape in the online environment? My take is that the influencer model is alive and well online, and it’s a powerful force that can be harnessed and leveraged by today’s interactive marketers.

What is influence?
Influence can be defined as the ability to convert the raw material of one’s life into something that has the capacity to affect another’s choice. But let’s get our heads out of academia and into something real — as online marketers, we’re looking at the power of influence as it relates to consumer purchasing decisions and buying behavior.

Watts says influence is propagated not by individual “hubs” that can spread a message, but by a “critical mass of easily influenced people each of whom adopts, say, a look or brand after being exposed to a single adopting neighbor.” This supports the assertion that a broad, blanketed advertising approach will reach enough of that critical mass to expose just the right amount of “easily influenced people” to an idea.

But in the online world, that thinking goes against the current advertising trend of unearthing the most qualified leads with heavy-duty targeting to drive higher ad performance. Watts’ assumptions may work when considering a large heterogeneous population, but this level of simplicity is not reflective of the nuances of our fascinating, and often complex, online experiences.

In an online context, a person’s experience is incredibly specific, personal and peered. The web is populated by clusters of like-minded folks who share ideas through creating, reading and iterating on each other’s content. This behavior takes the form of networks, which can be both formally organized like Facebook, or open networks of online influencers, like blogs, linking together around topics such as hybrid cars, high-def TVs or fly fishing.

Following Watts’ line of thinking, finding online influencers would do little to help your marketing initiative, so let’s consider the alternative. Will a far-reaching ad strategy — say a banner ad blasted on a traditional media site — give you the biggest bang for your marketing buck when it comes to influencing today’s online consumers — people who are increasingly using the web as an on-ramp to a personalized world of social media and niche sites?

I’d say no. Enticing the right consumer with the right message will be much more successful, not to mention cost-effective, if you understand the influencers driving those passionate conversations and go to them first.

Online consumers & influence: an open book
Public displays of trust are everywhere on the internet. And the ability to personalize your online experience means that web users typically surround themselves with the kind of content that is truly meaningful to them. Both of these characteristics reinforce the argument that the influencer model is alive and well online.

From traditional media sites to niche blogs, from Twitter and Digg, to Facebook and Myspace, consumers are engaging with online content — and each other — in totally different ways from in the offline world. Friending someone on Facebook, linking to or leaving comments on someone’s post, blog-rolling a trusted blog, adding a story to your social bookmarking service of choice — these are implicit actions that communicate trust. It is safe to say that the ability to use the web to aggregate and analyze these collective activities would paint a very powerful picture of both who and what influences a particular consumer. And this is marketing gold.

Even passive consumers — those who aren’t telling as clear a story through their daily web activities — are admitting to being influenced by very specific people and content. We know 65 percent of consumers read blogs because they are seeking opinions, and 65 percent of power shoppers access consumer-generated media — like blogs — before they make a purchase decision, spending an average of 10 minutes engaging with this content before buying. Again, influence in this context is specific, personal and peered. Finding where it lies and who wields it is the key to a successful online marketing initiative.

New connections between influential content and online ad performance can be quantified, and this is a serious weakness in Watts’ theory. The ‘single adopting neighbor’ may not be connected with the right kind of people — those who have an intent to purchase. If we look at influential bloggers who have gained credibility on a certain subject over the last two years, we will likely also see audience growth, word-of-mouth referral, content consumption and, eventually, greater clickthroughs, consumer adoption and sales.

So is the influencer model dead? It depends on who you talk to. I would say that, before casting the concept away, take into account how the internet is changing the way we discover trusted content and connect with one other, and how influence is core to these trends. Online, influencers are alive and well — to find them, you just have to know where, and how, to look.

In Defense of Narrow-Minded SEM Shops

March 19, 2008

As a whole, the SEM (define) industry frequently takes some undue criticism. The reputation that precedes us is one of narrow-minded reliance on search traffic and a calculated avoidance of other avenues of traffic generation.This is similar to my walking into a transmission shop and asking the owners why they don’t seem too concerned about my car’s brakes.

To be fair, some SEM firms probably do tout organic or PPC (define) traffic as “all you need,” but not very many. Most reputable firms understand that search traffic is one slice of a very large pie of on- and offline marketing. But as specialists, they promote their own fields. Why wouldn’t they?

Is Search Traffic Even Necessary?

The backlash of this mindset is people not only question SEM motives but also whether SEM as a field (and the traffic associated with it) is even necessary or helpful.

In a recent post, Mike Markson (who works in business development for Topix) questioned whether top sites actually need search traffic: “Not so coincidentally, if you actually look at the recent successful sites over the past few years — YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, etc. — none of them got there by Google traffic. They created a product and figured out a way to get mass appeal outside the Google regulatory system.”

Yes and no. I agree with the idea that with many viral sites don’t owe their initial popularity to search engines. For example, I don’t think the Facebook phenomenon owes much success to the masses searching for “social utility to enable me to connect with others.”

Search Engines’ Secondary Role?

On the other hand, what this post ignores is the secondary, societal role of Google and other engines. In most cases, engines like Google aren’t involved in creating branding success, but they’re critical to maintaining online brands. While people think of search engines primarily in the role of retrieving information they don’t yet know, it’s crucial to understand that engines serve a secondary purpose: retrieving information users already know about, because they found it there previously and expect it to be there again.

Simply put, the biggest social bookmarking sites in the world are not, StumbleUpon, or Ma.gnolia. The world’s biggest social bookmarking sites are Google’s and Yahoo’s search boxes.

It’s funny that Markson’s post mentions Facebook and YouTube. In 2007, both of those terms were on Google’s list of the 10 fastest rising queries. And both sites appeared in Yahoo’s 2007 list of the most popular tech queries. These rankings account for literally tens of millions of visits each year. So while these sites may not have engines to thank for their initial popularity, they do owe thanks to them for a significant delivery mechanism for that continued demand.

User Behavior Proves It?

I’m continually amazed at one aspect of user behavior at the search box. First, it’s quite odd for me to see “yahoo” as one of the top search queries at Google and “google” as one of the top search queries at Yahoo. They’re not in the top 10, but they’re very large.

Second, people don’t just search for site names at engines. Year in and year out, people search for entire URLs at the search box. Go to Google Suggest or use Yahoo Search, start typing “www,” and see what comes up. Your own site’s search logs probably reflect that habit. (I’m not sure whether people know they can actually type URLs into a browser’s address field or they know but are more comfortable searching for it.)


Search engines aren’t just for the initial search. Right or wrong, they enable users to “store” information for later use. If you maintain a big brand’s presence, it’s critical to know and utilize this.

But for popular sites, social or otherwise, that are growing weary of annoyingly high search traffic levels, fear not: there’s a solution. It’s been around for several years as a longstanding test of whether sites truly need search traffic or they’re simply trying to make a grand statement.

If search traffic really doesn’t matter to a site, the simplest solution is to exclude the entire site via the robots.txt file so it can no longer be crawled and indexed by engines. This isn’t a perfect solution, however; because of external link popularity, the site will still likely show up in search results for its name.

A better solution, if search traffic really doesn’t matter, is to choose a deserving charitable or nonprofit site and configure the server to redirect any traffic from Google, Yahoo, or Live Search to that deserving site.

P&G Viral Effort Gets Wild and Crazy

December 14, 2006

erstwhile staid Procter & Gamble is making an online splash with a
viral campaign worthy of a Saturday Night Live skit – and based on the
premise that men have throughout the ages also suffered from menstrual

The nation’s largest marketer has launched a $1 million effort that
includes two websites, a fake documentary and video clips, all of them
supposedly the work of an imaginary institute that’s studying “cyclical nonuterine dysmenorrhea” – that is, men with cramps, writes the New York Times. The “Men With Cramps” campaign is actually for P&G’s ThermaCare products, which are in fact intended to treat women with menstrual pain.

The viral campaign began in late September and new elements were
introduced in phases, beginning with small classified ads in newspapers
(“Men: Are You Suffering From Menstrual Cramps?”), directing readers to, created by Kirt Gunn & Associates in New York.

The mockumentary of how male cramps have altered history came next,
followed by video clips of the research ostensibly being carried out
(similar to a similar viral effort last year by the Captains of Industry), placed on iFilm, Google Video and YouTube.

Despite the potential and perceived risks to brands, traditional
marketers are finally willing to take a chance with new
media. Execs and P&G and its agency, Publicis Worldwide in New
York, said the risks were worth it to engage consumers. More than 11
million consumers have interacted with the campaign in some form or
another, according to P&G.

Video Product Reviews: An Idea Worth Five Stars?

October 10, 2006

Fans of and’s reviews might rejoice at a new breed of product reviews: video reviews., I’ve noticed, carries quite a few videos of product demonstrations, though you have to search for them. And I recently stumbled onto The site also offers video reviews submitted by users.At, not only do you get to hear what reviewers thought of that book, car, camcorder or toy, but you actually get to see them point things out to you in a video. You can also read video transcripts and rate reviews.Currently, the site doesn’t offer that many videos. In the camcorders section, for instance, there’re only 35 reviews. But has been playing around with the idea of compensating people for their opinions. Winners of its games review competition recently got flat-screen TVs . Though Sept. 30, the site also offered people $10 for submitting qualifying video reviews. The idea is somewhat similar to PayPerPost’s, which my colleague Rob Hoff wrote about on Oct. 2 (see below).I don’t know if this pay-for-review model works, but I certainly like the idea of being able to watch video reviews before I buy products.

Video Product Reviews: An Idea Worth Five Stars?

MySpace, Facebook Point Way for Jeep Compass

August 18, 2006

Jeep has launched an interactive campaign for a concert series
promoting its smallish SUV, and it’s relying heavily on MySpace and
Facebook.DaimlerChrysler’s Jeep is next week launching a nationwide concert
series (“Uncharted: The Jeep Compass Music Tour”) to promote the launch
of the 2007 Jeep Compass, which is aimed at young adults – and it’s
relying on MySpace an Facebook to get its message to the right
audience, reports
AdWeek. Instead of trying to drive that audience to or a
separate tour site, Jeep agency Organic decided “to fish where the fish
are,” according to Chuck Sullivan, group director and engagement
manager at Organic, part of Omnicom Group.

There’s now a MySpace Jeep page,
where fans can add Jeep as a “friend” to receive information on
concerts in their areas. Jeep has a similar profile page on Facebook.
Concert updates are sent to friends’ pages or via text message.

Jeep will use banner ads on MySpace and Facebook to drive traffic to the Jeep profile pages.