Word of Mouth: Madison Ave.--Are You Listening?

Posted by: David Kiley on November 15, 2007

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I have sat through two ad agency reviews this year: one for an account in excess of $300 million a year, and another for a smaller account of around $20 million.

I sat through pitches by some seven agencies—from New York, S.F., Boston and Atlanta. One thing that stuck out for me was the over-reliance on…well…advertising. In both cases, the client, and the brand, clearly suffered from poor word of mouth. The spec ads that were pitched in most cases were wallpaper. That was my take anyway.

I’m continually shocked by advertisers and agencies that are afraid to say something that is apt to actually get the attention of the consumer. Sure, you want to have product attributes in the ad. But there is nothing that says you can’t convey the information in a way that will create some buzz, some word of mouth chatter. God Bless TiVo.

It’s actually getting hard to write about advertising, because most of its still so awful that I don’t see it. I began watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares last night in my usual manner—taped and 20 minutes into the broadcast so I can blow through the ads. What did I do with the time? I went on Facebook and made my two Scrabble moves in the two games I am playing with friends online.

Marketers spent an eestimated $1 billion on word-of-mouth measures in 2006, according to PQ Media, which is presenting its findings at the Word of Mouth conference in Las Vegas this week. The level of spend is expected to reach almost $4 billion in 2011.

Spending is defined by PQ Media as media “supported by research and technology that encourages consumers to dialogue about products and services.”

A Nielsen survey of over 26,000 people found that nearly 78% of respondents trusted “recommendations from consumers,” a total 15% higher than the second-most credible source, newspapers.

So, that accounts for why Facebook, Myspace and Youtube.com are seen as so valuable.

Here’s an idea to save traditional media. What if marketers and agencies viewed every ad they create and buy as a medium for word-of-mouth.

Reader Comments

Mike Keliher

November 15, 2007 6:08 PM

Add me as a Facebook friend and we can play Scrabulous. :)

Justin

November 16, 2007 4:22 AM

Hi David,

I agree - word of mouth advertising is by far the most effective form of advertising there is.

A prime example of word of mouth advertising is Google. Google never spent much on advertising and relied entirely on word of mouth advertising - then again they do have a great product.

I believe that marketing will continue to shift away from traditional television and newspaper to Web 2.0. This trend will continue and such a driving consumer force is hard to stop.

-Justin

joel cohen

November 18, 2007 2:04 PM

Not that I disagree with you, but this is easier said than done. Maybe you should have given some examples. Word of mouth advertising to me is when I'm in a restaurant and the owner actually introduces himself to me and we develop a bond.
Joel Cohen --- www.RestaurantMarketing.com

David Polinchock

December 8, 2007 11:15 AM

We've been talking about this topic for some time and once wrote this piece:

And just look at the entire WOM phenomenon. Now, as part of full disclosure, we participated in the first WOMMA conference and are very good friends of the WOMMA team. But think about it, if you identify campaign 'A' as your WOM campaign, aren't you in effect saying that you don't expect anything from the rest of your campaigns? Shouldn't the goal of great storytelling be that people talk about everything you do??? Shouldn't you be creating TV commercials, events or online activities that all make people want to talk about them?

Sorry to be so long, but it's a topic we're pretty passionate about!

chandani

March 13, 2008 10:44 AM

Has anyone out there heard about WideCircles.com. 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. http://widecircles.com?s=imt1

c

March 13, 2008 10:45 AM

Has anyone out there heard about WideCircles.com. 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. http://widecircles.com?s=imt1

chamila

March 23, 2008 4:48 PM

Has anyone out there heard about WideCircles.com. 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.

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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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