Word of Mouth Marketing Needs Clear Definition
Moderated by Edelman Catalyst Group Strategic Consultant Justin Zwiren, this session is the first of two AD:TECH session focused on word of mouth and viral marketing. The panel included VBMA Co-Founder and DMC CEO Justin Kirby, P & G Tremor CEO Steve Knox, New Media Strategies Founder and CEO Pete Snyder and BzzAgent CEO Dave Balter.
Zwiren began the session discussing how companies can listen to consumers to avert disaster through monitoring chats are reading weblogs. Much of the session centered on transparency - how much should be disclosed to the consumers in a word of mouth or viral marketing campaign. BzzAgent's Balter said no cash should exchange hands when a word of mouth network is created by a marketer and it's better to wait for consumers to join rather than actively recruit. DMC's Kiry question whether transparency, if intended, is even possible. Recent attempts by Mazda, which created a fake blog to promote a new vehicles was not branded in any way by Mazda but was "found out" by consumers in less than two days causing Mazda to eat crow and pull the site. Yet, BzzAgent's Balter pleaded expressly to marketers in the room to be transparent in their viral efforts or the medium would be killed.
Terms such as "talkability" and "Spreadability" have become vernacular for methods of measurement now being explored by viral and buzz marketers. Moderator Zwiren posited “conversation rating points” emerging as a comparable measure to gross/target rating points. While forms of measurement begin to emerge, DMC's Kirby lended some common "conversation" measurement saying, "we're not going to measure every cocktail party conversion - most people are there to get drunk or get laid."
Following the panel conversation, an audience member asked how viral marketers are insuring children are not being blindly taken advantage of with some of these efforts. While not addressing detail, both BzzAgent's Balter and Tremor's Knox stated emphatically when teens are involved, parents are approached as well and explained how their children are involved in these efforts.