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October 04, 2007
Word of mouth number 1, again
Create all of the advertising platforms you want, word of mouth is still the most-trusted form of advertising in the world.
Seventy-eight percent of the people Nielsen polled trust the recommendation of a friend. That's 15 points higher than the next ranking, newspaper ads. Coming in second must surely be good news for worried dailies.
The hot horse, of course, is citizen-created content; it's the third most-trusted form of advertising, just two points below newspaper ads. (Nielsen unfortunately calls this "consumer opinions posted online." C'mon Nielsen, dump that disparaging term and just refer to us as people or citizens.)
Here's how the top results play out:
What's interesting from the study is how trustworthiness of personal recommendations varies by region then trickles down to individual countries.
For instance, word of mouth is trusted by nearly everyone in the Far East compared to parts of eastern and western Europe. In Denmark, fewer than two-thirds of the people trust what others tell them. Too much paranoia-inducing hash, perhaps? I keeeed.
One interesting study that could be spun out of this: Are lower levels of recommendations a reflection of the history of the culture or the contemporary practices of media or government?
While word of mouth has probably been the most trusted form of advertising since the dawn of time, citizen-created content is the new wunderkind. Dozens of web 2.0 companies are forming around the idea. Fortunes have already been earned, and dreams of future fortunes dance through imaginations. You might even call this the golden age of amateur media.
Underpinning much of this entrepreneurial euphoria is the inherent reliability of citizen-created content, which is trusted most in North America, followed closely by the Asian-Pacific rim. That's not too surprising since most citizen-created content originates from those two regions.
What should be of concern to popular opinion aggregators like TripAdvisor and Yelp, or budding entrepreneurs or existing media companies is that only about two-thirds of the world trusts online opinions.
Lest those numbers fall, recommendation sites should be working diligently on preventive measures, like identity-verification systems and algorithms that root out sock puppets. Bad news about poseurs gaming the system will spread faster than good news about efforts to fix systemic problems. Trust is your most valuable, but least tangible, asset.
As bloggers, blog readers and contributors to the common good, we must remain vigilant against the scammers and the ethically uneducated. Truth must win in order for trust to prevail.
In the meantime, all of you true believers in word of mouth, community, evangelism and grassroots organizing, take heart: what you're doing has the most inherent trust and therefore value as an marketing platform.
Other blogs that reference Word of mouth number 1, again:
» WOM: Hear it and Believe it... from Solutions Talk
Today's Notable Quote: People say believe half of what you see, Son, and none of what you hear. I can't help bein' confused- If it's true please tell me dear... - Partial lyric to I Heard it through the Grapevine [Read More]
WOM continues to top the charts. What surprises me is that "ads before movies" rank higher than "search engine ads", "online banner ads", and "text ads on mobile phones". Nice post!
It is interesting that ads before movies have that much trust.
It's also very interesting to me that "email I signed up for" has such little trust, even though it was initiated by the customer.
I think the amount of spam floating around these days is making email much less reliable, even for double, triple, or quadruple opt-in stuff. Stupid spammers.
Anyhow, excellent post.
Thanks for constantly posting interesting stuff!
Regarding high/low trust in recommendations, could there be reason be that in many asian countries, focus is very strong on family and community, and many western countries (like Denmark) are very individualistic?
I think lawyers are warming up to the challenges of managing brand reputation these days. I read a piece at EFF in which the courts were actually debating the deeper meanings of "dumb ass" in terms of defamation, maybe libel, and trademark protection is a term I think we'll hear more, even after the Google Moveon controversy fades.From what I've read so far, the issues get even more tangled with the net's global reach and varying international libel and trademark laws.Truth in advertising might be enforced only sporadically, but those who can afford to might choose to enforce truth in consumer content more stringently. To your point, that's just another reason to maintain the integrity and keep it as genuine as possible.
Hurrah for word-of-mouth power! I think one of the reasons why this is still the most trusted and powerful form of advertising is the fact that it is based on people's actual experiences. Or maybe it has been etched in our minds since we were kids... It's like not wanting to be the first to volunteer to recite in class until someone else does it first.
These are great factoids, thank you for taking the time to publish them. Will help a great deal in conversations with clients and peers on how powerful word of mouth and the voice of the consumer is and will continue to be.
Not only is "word of mouth still the most-trusted form of advertising in the world.", it is still the cheapest.