Consumer trust toward traditional
advertising is being challenged by growing confidence in
consumer-generated-media (CGM) and the recommendations of other consumers,
according to a new study of consumer behavior by Intelliseek Inc., a leader in
A follow-up to a 2004 "Trust in
Advertising" study, the "2005 Consumer-Generated Media (CGM) and Engagement
Study" finds that, compared to traditional advertising, word-of-mouth (WOM)
behavior continues to grow in importance in consumer awareness, trial, and
purchase of new products.
Consumers are 50 percent more
likely to be influenced by word-of-mouth recommendations from their peers than
by radio/TV ads – a slightly higher level of influence/trust than found in the
2004 study co-authored by Intelliseek and Forrester.
Intelliseek's research also finds
important correlations between consumers who regularly skip over or delete
television or online ads and those who shape, create, and absorb
consumer-generated media (defined as experiences, opinions and advice posted on
the Internet by consumers for others to read and share). "Active ad
skippers," for example, are 25 percent more likely to create and respond to CGM
on Internet message boards, forums and blogs.
findings from the research will be presented by Intelliseek CEO Mike Nazzaro
during Advertising Week events this week in New York City, including OMMA and
the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) conferences. Additional
phases of the research will be released in October and November, respectively.
"The advertising landscape is
changing, forcing marketers to broaden and redefine the concepts of media,
influence and audience reach," said Nazzaro. "If consumer-generated media is in
fact the most effective and trusted form of advertising, it's critical that
marketers begin to measure, manage and influence it and, equally importantly,
heed the consequences when consumers turn the message against
Key findings from the
During August 2005, Intelliseek polled a representative
online sample of 660 online consumers and explored attitudes and opinions across
key CGM venues, including Internet message boards, forums, blogs, direct company
feedback and offline conversation.
Word-of-mouth behavior among
"familiars" trumps all forms of advertising and is more trusted than news or
"expert commentary," the study finds. In addition, positive word-of-mouth from a
personal acquaintance carries just as much impact as negative
word-of-mouth. This has "critical implications for brands that nurture
evangelism, brand loyalty, and advocacy," Nazzaro said.
Interestingly, WOM/CGM has more
impact on consumer attitudes about products than positive or negative news
|To what degree
would your decision to purchase a product or service be influenced
|Positive word of mouht from
someone you knew personally
|Negative word of mouth from
someone you knew personally
|A negative news story on TV
or radi or in a newspaper or magazine
|A TV or radio
|An advertisement in a
newspaper or magazine
|*100 represents the average
Public comments by employees also
carry important credibility compared to traditional ad vehicles, a point
underscored in a recently published white paper on employee blogging by
Intelliseek and Edelman.
- Attitudes of
Ad-Skippers: While fewer than 20 percent indicated they use or
own digital video recorders or TiVo-like services that permit ad skipping, a
majority of respondents indicated that they "deliberately skip over advertising
on the television." In addition, "ad skippers" are more likely to learn
about new product trends and brands than consumers who do not regularly skip
ads. They are 25 percent more likely to want to "create a dialogue" with others
on Internet message boards and forums, especially to learn new information and
have questions answered.
- Teens and
CGM: Teens lead all segments in overall CGM creation but remain
more trusting of advertisers. Nearly 30 percent of teens now actively
create CGM by sending photos via their cell phones, 45 percent have experimented
with or created a blog, and nearly 10 percent subscribe to RSS feeds.
- Bloggers vs.
Non-Bloggers: Bloggers create an enormous amount of CGM across
numerous sources, elevating their overall influence, the study finds.
- Women vs.
Men: Men are more likely to spend time on Internet message
boards, forums, and discussions, while women expressed a higher tendency to
"forward something (they) had found on the Internet to others," especially
"things like scams or computer viruses." About equal numbers of men and women
- Total Recommendations on
the Web: Consumers are on track to post close to 2 billion
comments on the Internet by the end of 2005, a significant increase over the
previous year, according to Intelliseek estimates.
- Key Industries Susceptible
to CGM Impact: Health/medical, auto, electronics, video games and music
categories have the greatest likelihood of being influenced by CGM.
- Negative reaction to Shill
Marketing: Intelliseek's research also looked closely at consumer
attitudes toward artificial buzz or so-called "shill" marketing, in which
consumers are paid or offered incentives to recommend products or brands.
One-third would be disappointed if a trusted contact did not carefully disclose
a paid or incentive-based relationship, 26 percent said they would never trust
the opinion of that friend again, and 30 percent said they would be less likely
to buy a product/service.
"Trust is the currency of effective
advertising, but it's highly fragile," explained Pete Blackshaw, Intelliseek's
Chief Marketing Officer who oversaw the study.
The full 2005 Intelliseek Consumer Generated Media (CGM)
and Engagement Study, including cross-tabulated data, breakouts and
recommendations, will be available for purchase in early November.
Companies can pre-order it from the Intelliseek web site later this week or download
podcast versions of its recommendations. Blackshaw and Nazzaro will co-lead an
Oct. 26 webinar to review the findings and will discuss them in early November
at Ad:Tech New York.