Anyone who's anyone in this industry knows the power of the internet and word of mouth. This is more than just a YouTube video being passed around, however clearly the dollars, attention, campaigns, user, jeez - it looks like this whole internet thing is popular and measurable.
Via BazaarVoice, eMarketer published a report yesterday saying that more and more consumers are turning to the internet for advice on products and services. I've been saying this for years, but after looking at communities that were built back in the 90's during AOL's boom, human behavior, and how online friendships have evolved, to today's influence of site like Digg - people turn to people they trust for advice - both offline and online.
I'll take this a step further and interpret -- Even past those you know on a first name basis, those who are perceived as credible can be seen as influencers online. This also explains why the Pay Per Post model really throws a monkey wrench into the equation because it forces readers to determine if their favorite authors or long-term friends have been bought and paid for or if they're giving their honest opinion.
And according to our friends at BIGResearch, I was right: "91% of US adults regularly or occasionally seek advice about products or services". Even higher, over 94% say they regularly or occasionally give out advice about product or services online.
My favorite stat from the research is that even though spends on online advertising, such as banners, those stupid ads that hover over the page and the like, soars, people hate them:
Want a quick way to save face or gain a few points with your audience online? Drop the banner ad buys and put it toward credible word of mouth campaigns. Your customers, brand managers, customer service folks and sales people will thank you for it.
All images in this post are from eMarketer.
Update: Where are my manners? Happy 4th of July to my fellow American readers!
Correction: It was brought to my attention that BzzAgent does not pay their Agents to review products, therefore I owe them an apology and the previous reference has been removed from the above paragraph.