This week, the FTC released its revised Guidelines for Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, the first time its Guidelines have been updated since 1980. The Guidelines have significant implications for both brands and individuals (especially bloggers) engaged in social media: Advertisers are subject to liability for false or unsubstantiated statements made through endorsements, or for failing to disclose a material connection between themselves and their endorsers. This includes their relationship with bloggers and others who are compensated to promote or review a product. Endorsers (again, including bloggers) may also be subject to liability for their statements. The communicator of the message must be transparent and honest. The FTC will require substantiation, or an appropriate basis for claims being made. When the Guidelines are implemented, social media, bloggers, and others who

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Exclusive PQ Media Research: Despite Worst Recession in Decades, Brands Increased Spending on Word-of-Mouth Marketing 14.2% to $1.54 Billion in 2008 While Growth Will Slow to 10.2% in 2009, Word-of-Mouth is on Pace to Remain among the Fastest Growing Segments of the Media and Communications Industry This Year From Only a $300 Million Blip in the Marketing Services Sector in 2003, Word-of-Mouth Spending is Expected to Reach $3 Billion in 2013 July 29, 2009 – Stamford, CT – Spending on word-of-mouth (WoM) marketing rose 14.2% to $1.54 billion in 2008, despite the worst economic recession in 70 years, accentuated by secular and structural trends battering traditional advertising and marketing media, according to new research from PQ Media (www.pqmedia.com). While year-over-year growth is expected to slow in 2009,

At last week’s ARF Audience Measurement 4.0 Conference, Gregg Liebman, SVP at CNN, and I presented a paper on “The Marketing Value of Influencers,” in which we presented new research in support of influencer marketing.  We highlighted three primary reasons why influencers and influencer marketing brings considerable value to marketers: – Influencers generate reach, making marketing more efficient and effective – Influencers accelerate product adoption and improve profitability – Influencers amplify advertising messages via word of mouth, conversations that are more likely to include active brand advocacy At just about the same time, Brandweek ran a story entitled, “Scientist: Influencer Theory is Bogus,” based upon an interview with Duncan Watts, a Columbia University professor who is now serving as a research scientist at Yahoo. The debate of whether influencers matter

One sure sign that an industry has “arrived” is when debates about ethics, or the need for regulation, become heated.  Certain practices in social media and word of mouth are now in the ethical hot seat.  Whether “the next big thing in marketing” continues to grow and thrive, or has the brakes applied via government regulation or declining consumer trust, all depends on the practices marketers and the agencies that serve them adopt right now. I am the former President and currently Treasurer/Board member of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), which has had an Ethics Code in place since its founding in 2005.  (I am writing here as an individual, and not in any official WOMMA capacity.) At the core of the Code is the issue of transparency

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, ended his Commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania last week by exhorting the graduates to “turn off your computers and phones and discover all that is human around you.”  That’s the only way, he said, to discover the true meaning of life. There is wisdom in this advice, not only for college graduates but for marketers as well.  Is your social media strategy owned exclusively by a digital marketing team?  If so, you could be missing out on 90% of the social media opportunity — namely, that which takes place offline, where people interact one on one and in groups as humans and where people’s conversations are quite different than they are online. With Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter reporting startling growth statistics, it’s easy

The growth statistics for social media are truly impressive.  Facebook has grown from 100 million to 200 million users in less than eight months.  Twitter’s audience grew 76.8% in just one month, from February to March, and currently has seven million unique monthly visitors.  And less than one month after she started Twittering in April, Oprah already has 800,000 followers.  No wonder 2009 is being called the year of social media. But as Gary Tseng of Procter & Gamble’s Digital Marketing Innovation team reminded his audience last week at the Bazaarvoice Social Commerce Summit, social media is just one of many “boats” on the “ocean” of word of mouth. For brands, the opportunities to activate word of mouth – the most important purchase influencer for consumers – should not be

MediaPost News Marketing Daily Social media conversation is not only a subset of total word of mouth (WOM); it also differs substantially in content, according to research conducted by WOM research and consulting firm Keller Fay Group. The group compared the 50 most talked about brands on social media last year as measured by social media consultancy Vitrue’s Social Media Index, with “all” WOM – both offline and online – as measured by Keller Fay’s own TalkTrack® system. Some of the results: Only two brands – Sony and Dell – were within the top 10 on both lists. The all-WOM/TalkTrack top 10 were (in descending order):  Coca-Cola, AT&T, Verizon, Walmart, Pepsi, Ford, Sony, Dell, McDonald’s and Sprint/Nextel.  The Vitrue social media top 10 were:  iPhone, CNN, Apple, Disney, Xbox, Starbucks,

Marketing to Moms

Monday, 23 February 2009 by

Marketers who want to reach mothers – a group 75 million strong in the US – through word of mouth are taking advantage of social media and teaming up with bloggers to give their viral campaigns a boost. This is a group that wields the kind of clout that marketers covet.  They influence 85% of all household purchases, according to experts who study the mom market.  They are also the big spenders in the family.  By some estimates, mothers in the US alone spend about $2 trillion a year.  Some projections suggest that figure could grow to $3 trillion by 2012. As consumers, women also rely heavily on Web sites and blogs to research everything from diapers to medical issues.  That reliance grows when they’re planning a family, with some

Word-of-mouth about Coke has exploded, as if someone dropped a Mentos mint into a bottle of its diet version. According to a new study released by the Keller Fay Group, Coca-Cola is currently the most talked about brand in America. The ranking was drawn from 25,142 consumer conversations conducted between January and August 2008. “They’ve been working [W-O-M] channels pretty adeptly, and clearly have learned a great deal since turning their corporate nose up at all the Diet Coke/Mentos experiments a couple of years ago,” said Gerry Khermouch, editor of Beverage Business Insights, West Nyack, N.Y. “The accomplishment is all the more impressive since a basic carbonated soft drink is not inherently buzzworthy.” Katie Bayne, CMO at Coca-Cola, North America, said, “We’re actively and consistently fueling buzz through innovative efforts

Center for Media Research New research by BabyCenter and the Keller Fay Group, shows that today’s pregnant women and new moms engage in one-third more word of mouth conversations per day than the total public or women, and 60% of conversations among the studied group carry with them a recommendation to buy, try, or consider the brands under discussion. This group has an average of 109 word of mouth conversations per week about products, services and brands, most of which are positive and considered highly credible by other moms. The Word of Mouth Marketing Study, conducted among 1,721 pregnant women and new mothers in the first quarter of 2008, shows that positive brand sentiment outweighs negative by a 10:1 margin. Among the mom segment, retail and apparel is highly impactful,

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