Do we have an obligation to Like?

Every survey that I’ve seen in the past five+ years talking about sources of consumer trust always show recommendations from a friend as the highest rated. Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages report is the latest, finding that 84% of respondents across 58 countries rate word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family as the most trustworthy source of input.

Recently, Google updated its Terms of Service to indicate that user data might be used in conjunction with ads, called shared endorsements. Facebook has a similar product called social ads. You can opt out of these associations…but should you?

Consumers dislike advertising for two main reasons: irrelevance and interruption. Placing ads within the context of search takes care of the latter. When we +1 and Like brands, that addresses the former — friends typically share mutual interests and with endorsement, there’s trust added to relevance.

So before you revolt and opt out of having your profile associated with ads on social networks, consider what help you’d like to get from your friends — and what you’ll give them in return.



Astroturf grows in strange places

Cowboys Stadium


“Agreements were reached with a charter bus operator, a teeth-whitening service, a laser hair-removal chain and an adult entertainment club…dentists, lawyers and an ultra-sound clinic had all commissioned fake reviews.”

— “Fake online reviews crackdown in New York sees 19 companies fined,” The Guardian, 23 September 2013.

One of the biggest problems with online reviews is astroturfing, the term for paid content posted as organic/unsolicited input. Yesterday a settlement was reached in New York state between the government and businesses that bought and sold astroturf reviews.

When credibility can be faked so easily, brand names — as a promise of what a buyer can expect and a company will deliver — may matter now more than ever.



Guest post: @jackiehuba on Monster Loyalty

I am a Steelers “One Percenter,” one of the die-hard super fans that make up about 1% of a customer base. This One Percenter concept is based on research from my previous book, Citizen MarketersMy coauthor and I discovered that the most highly engaged particpants in a community make up a tiny percentage of the overall customer base but are vocal passionate evangelists who bring new customers into the fold through word of mouth.

In my upcoming book Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics, I discuss how Lady Gaga has built a following numbering in the millions worldwide but focuses most of her efforts on engaging her One Percenters, her “Little Monsters.” In my four years of research, I’ve been amazed at the depth of “monster loyalty” that these fans show for Gaga.

In consulting with companies over the years, I find that many companies and brands don’t know who their One Percenters are, or even if they have any. So let’s find out how much monster loyalty is out there for products and brands.

What product/company/brand/non-profit do YOU have monster loyalty for? What is the craziest thing you have ever done to show your love for a brand? Maybe not a tattoo but I would love to hear about how much you love this product or brand and have you share your loyalty for the world to see.

Share your story in a blog post, upload an Instagram picture, or write a tweet about your fanaticism for a brand/product/company and tag it #monsterloyalty. The amazing folks at FeedMagnet will be aggregating all of the social content based on the #monsterloyalty hashtag for all to see. I will update you when that is up. Looking forward to seeing your stuff!

Don’t believe the hype

WOM Manual II in an Ego Trap?

“Don’t assume that everyone who is loading information onto their blogs or pushing it onto Twitter is doing it in a sharing spirit of helpfulness. There are people — you can see this already — who are opportunistically using this to feed their egos, angle for jobs, or generally to stir up trouble. More than ever, it’s important to be skeptical about the sources of the information you consume.”

The New Bird Flu, and How to Read the News About It,” Wired, 5 April 2013.

Nielsen: “Our influencers, Ourselves”

Kate Niederhoffer, Director of Measurement Science at Nielsen Online spoke about a current work in progress – defining "influentials."  Is there a hotter topic in CGM for marketers?  Well yes, ROI, but we’re closer to figuring this one out, or at least more people are trying.

Kate gave an academic explanation of the history of influence – from propoganda to personal influence to a renaissance of interest via online amplification.

Defining influencers happens in four steps:

  1. Factors, focusing on three dimensions:  authority, popularity, virality
  2. Characterization of influencers: factors, independent dimensions (low inter-item r-squared), unique combinations
  3. Ensure algorithm is flexible enough to allow additional parameters, e.g. persuasiveness, linguistic style.
  4. Check for face validity, e.g. peer review

The result is a final score, an "ideal conduit" that can and should be weighted depending on client goals.

Does it go deeper than this?  Probably.  But I don’t have a PhD like Kate to explain everything properly here.

In a more simplified approach, Ken Cassar outlined a way for media planners to make influencers identification actionable.  Using data from the NetView panel:

  1. Find users who visit niche/esoteric, i.e. "expert" web sites on topics
  2. Users who spend more communication time than average (e.g. time spent, posting comments, etc.) on these sites are most vocal
  3. Identify other sites visited where you can reach these vocal experts (behavioral targeting of sorts)

In an example for TV broadcasters, 4.4% of the at home population were in the influencer category.  65% of the sample was female, indexing at 124 vs. 74 male.  The 25 – 34 age segment was most influential in age demographic cuts.  The result?  USA Today rates highest for site most likely to be visited by TV watcher influentials (684 index).  […?]


I had to get back to Boston and the afternoon sessions couldn’t be blogged anyway.  But during the day I met a couple people I’ve seen online:  Emily Riley from Jupiter and Rohit Bhargava from Ogilvy PR.  Saw Henry Copeland from BlogAds around, tweets too.

Free WOM webinar with Umbria – Nov 7

I’m delivering a free webinar with Umbria CEO Janet Eden-Harris on word of mouth marketing and brand monitoring.  It’s scheduled for Wednesday November 7th at 3 pm Eastern.

We’ll be talking about taking a left-brain approach to making WOM work.  More potential takeaways:

  • Learn not only what is being said, but who is doing the talking
  • Discover common characteristics of a target segment
  • Learn how to measure the effectiveness, momentum and engagement of your marketing
  • Take away practical tips for adjusting campaigns for the shifting marketing landscape

You can register with Umbria directly.

iPhone: advertising and brand monitoring

The iPhone goes on sale today, which you probably knew.  Do you remember seeing any ads for it?  TV?  Print?  Banners?

I’ve seen some paid keywords on Google.  Given the amount of buzz, hype, anticipation around the launch – why even bother?  (unless you’re marketing Blackberries.)
Today I got an email with the image at left.  Search ads and email –
that’s it.  Compare that to the consumer-generated content around the
product:  on YouTube, Flickr, and in blogs.

Here’s what brand monitoring experts have to say about the launch:

– Matt Hurst at Microsoft predicts the topic will garner 1% of blog discussion today.  Looks like he’s right.
Nielsen Buzzmetrics indicates positive sentiment around features.  Relevant Noise disagrees.
BrandIntel points out that although discussion levels are high, purchase intent remains neutral.

So it seems as if we have a Subservient Chicken question here:  lots
of buzz, but what about sales?  At minimum, the iPhone is already a
huge success for the Apple brand and time will tell us about the bottom

Behind The Chicken with Barbarian Group

At the IHAF spring meeting on Friday, Rick Webb from Barbarian Group spoke about creativity.  If you didn’t know, this is the company that built Subservient Chicken.  Two of Rick’s favorite commands:  "build a tent" and "make a sandwich".

Also, check out some free stuff from Barbarian:  magnetosphere, an iTunes visualiser; and grass, an interactive application.

Research Agency CEOs at ARF re:think

The second day of the ARF’s re:think conference opened with a panels research agency executives, called "The Research Agency of the Future" with the CEOs of GfK, Kantar, TNS and Nielsen.  Moderator Jim Figura of Colgate-Palmolive said it should have been called "Insights Agency of the Future."

Most of what these CEOs had to say didn’t get beyond what you can read in the press today.  Thus as Joe Mandese wrote in his post on the official re:think blog, the interesting parts of the panel came from reading between the lines.  In fact, most of the talking points were so generic that I didn’t know what company was being referenced for the middle two speakers.  GfK was introduced by the moderator and Nielsen went last by process of elimination.  But for Kantar and TNS, it was a few minutes before I knew what company was being represented.  This was because none of the CEOs told the audience their name, title, or company when they took the podium – they all just started talking.  Perhaps these guys are rockstars of research to the ARF audience.

Klaus Wübbenhorst from GfK proposed his company was best positioned to help businesses – after all, GfK stands for "growth from knowledge."  I asked Klaus about GfK’s brand monitoring plans after the panel.  No response – he looked at me as if I had just asked him to go a grab me a coffee with cream and two sugars.  I asked again, mentioning how TNS and Nielsen were building capabilities in the space.  He mumbled something to the effect of "sure, it’s important."  I asked him if he thought brand monitoring were an important capability for a research firm to have in its portfolio.  Certainly a slow-pitch underhand softball in my book, but it must have looked more like a Matsusaka gyroball.  No response.  Pretty clear he just wanted me to leave; unfortunately, I had to in order to deliver my breakout session.  Note to Klaus:  70 million and growing.  Think about it.

Credit to Eric Salama from Kantar who was aware enough that the Blackberry in his pocket was creating interference with the mic.  Salama says it’s time to mind the gap between what research firms promise and what they deliver.  His firm’s strategy hasn’t changed for four years, built on three principles:  people, innovation, and data quality.  I asked Eric about brand monitoring, too.  He said none of his companies were doing it.  I asked about Visible Technologies – he said, "yes, we have a partnership with them."

David Lowden from TNS had this to say:  "The research company of the future will be a partner with its clients."  "Cost-effective servicing is an increasingly important issue, but quality must remain."  "Clients will only commit to insight that positively impacts business in a meaningful way."  He did mention the Cymfony acquisition as part of their efforts to stay cutting edge.

David Calhoun from Nielsen was certainly different in appearance – he was the only panelist sans jacket.  He also heavily referenced his client-side experience, which others did not.  Calhoun was formerly at GE and mentioned his experience and mentors from there both in his prepared remarks as well as the Q&A.  These remarks certainly pointed out management acumen that puts The Nielsen Company in good hands – hopefully Calhoun will be able to change the industry standard as well and help marketers make advertising work.