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Word of Mouth versus Advertising

Posted by: David Kiley on August 30, 2005

At the risk of shooting the hands that feed me, I know full well that word of mouth is far valuable to a marketer than advertising. Just ask Audi what was more important to their brand—-the advertising they ran in the late 1980s and early 90s,or the lingering word of mouth over false accusations that its cars accelerated out of control.

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), a very interesting organization, has begun a Word of Mouth Versus Advertising blog on its website. [Thanks for the head’s up Adrants]. One entry makes a terribly obvious, but nonetheless interesting point about how a saturation ad campiagn, like the ones favored by drug companies, for example, kill word of mouth, which is far more valuable to marketers. Why? “Because people tell other people about things they think they don’t know about,” writes one poster. Good point. Another poster: “If you want to spark word-of-mouth, the first thing you need to do is realize it’s not about you. Word-of-mouth only works if your give people an amazing story to tell so that THEY are the introducer of something new, cool, different, interesting, or outrageous.” Another good point.

There are some good posters there. But I hope more people from ad agencies and marketers chime in with real-world war stories.

Reader Comments

Paul Williams

September 8, 2005 7:00 PM

Traditional advertising provides the reach most companies need, but not the credibility. Word of mouth provides the credibility, but not the reach. At we believe the key is to combine modern advertising with word of mouth. helps companies capture their good “word of mouth” in a form that can then be promoted using traditional advertising.


March 12, 2008 8:35 AM

Has anyone out there heard about It seems like a way better service then wasting money on PPC. Apparently they are using refering websites ( forums, blogs, wiki, etc. ) and have a viral word of mouth distributed approach to it. My friend told me he got around 100 visits from single post which cost him $0.40c. I am going to give them a try today . In case you are intrested here is it.


March 18, 2008 12:48 AM

The new distributed viral forum/blog/wiki/classified/etc viral advertising engine is here. Spread the word about your product or service in short amount of time to millions of people. Get residual traffic and increase search engine visibility by using long lasting backlinks. Low cost, no pay per click fraud issues and great ROI.


April 15, 2008 12:21 PM

At we believe the key is to combine modern advertising with word of mouth.

Put The Message Where It Matters! WideCircles aka Wide Circles represents relevant, distributed, highly targeted and efficient internet word of mouth marketing using entertaining or informative messages that are designed to be passed along in an exponential fashion using social network mediums such as blogs, forums, wikis and so on.

Ian McKee

April 15, 2008 6:10 PM

Certainly traditional ATL is a well wrn path to creating awareness.

But with trust in advetising so low (and ever decreasing) it is gtting harder to build credibility through this media.

WoM on the other hand is a powerful media for creating credibility.

Sequenced correctly the two can work together.

Vocanic ( has a process for doing just this called Groundswell(tm)

neeraj joshi

January 25, 2009 3:33 PM

advertisements are more vital than word of mouth because it is ads only who give word of mouth a chance to arrive.if people does not know abt a company,its products then no matter how much sonebody publicizes his brand it ll serve tiny purpose to him.People should know a product then word of mouth will serve a god purpose.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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