Admap Magazine Circa 2005
Admap is a unique monthly magazine for the propagation of ideas, new insight and evidence of effectiveness in marketing communications. Offering access to a global audience of decision-makers within the marketing and communications industry, Admap is an effective platform in which to deliver your advertising message. Admap reaches the marketers who are making and shaping the future of the industry.
This was their website for a number of years.
Content is from the site's 2005 archived pages.
Their current webiste is found at: www.warc.com/admap
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Measuring Advertising Performance 2007
Carlton Tower Hotel, 1st February 2007, London SW1, UK
Measuring Advertising Performance Conference, a one day conference from The Advertising Association, organised by Admap conferences, on Thursday February 1st, 2007, at the Carlton Hotel, London. SW1. This flagship annual event has been redesigned, to address the most crucial issues that our industry faces in measuring marketing communications effects.
Monitoring Media Campaign Performance 2007
Hesperia London Victoria, 28th February 2007London SW1, UK
The conference will look at UK media campaigns and research approaches but, as the globalisation of media networks and media owners continues apace, the presentations will also focus on international and global strategies. All clients, media planners, media buyers and media sellers with an interest in improving and proving the ROI of media advertising strategies should attend.
What Next For Online Research 2007
Millennium Knightsbridge Hotel, 15th March 2007 London SW1, UK
This Admap conference has been convened to examine how well online research is meeting its brief and – crucially – to enable delegates to learn from the successes and pitfalls that have been encountered by researchers and clients moving their research online.
Advertisers’ new insight into the brain - May2005
Brain science is revolutionising advertising thinking and research; what are the implications for advertisers?Erik du Plessis
**The buzz about the buzz is still only a buzz - October2005
There is nothing new about buzz, but internet and blogs have changed its role in marketing communicationsShula Bigman, Communication Options
Wonderful Wasted Web - December2005
With the internet spearheading today’s marketing, why do so many companies fail to exploit its potential?Stan Rapp
What happens at x30 fast-forward? - January2006
Exactly how do consumers process ads, and how can we discover the effects?Dr Alastair Goode, Duckfoot
Fifteen ways NOT to evaluate your communications - February2006
An outline of the many ways in which campaign evaluation can be misleading or just plain wrongLes Binet, DDB Matrix
Engagement is many different things - April2006
Whatever else it is, engagement is not a media audience metricErwin Ephron, Ephron, Papazian & Ephron
The future of communications planning - May2006
How will effective planning evolve and who will be responsible?Jim Taylor, Mediaedge:cia
** The buzz about the buzz is still only a buzz
by Shula Bigman
There is nothing new about buzz. But, as Shula Bigman , Communication Options, explains, internet and blogs have changed its role in marketing communications.
WITH A RECENT LEADING article in the New York Times science section, ‘Gossip’ joined the world of media. The whole arena of word of mouth (WOM) – originally the transmission of spoken information from one person to another – is the latest, fashionable interest for marketers and advertisers. Once, WOM was a poor relation of PR. But with growing media fragmentation and the switch from TV-centric planning to a broad-based, media-neutral approach, WOM has been attracting increased attention as an inexpensive way of gaining contact points with consumers. Word-of-mouth thinking figures in buzz marketing, in the commercial use of blogging and in other web-based means of spreading the word. In itself, WOM is not a new concept. Its study goes way back to the early 1940s, to the work of Paul Lazarsfeld and his student at the time, Elihu Katz. Their early studies were carried out at Columbia University, New York, and focused onvoting behaviour. They showed thatinvolved voters followed the news in themedia more closely than those withoutany political opinion. In contrast, theless involved voters were not likely to beinfluenced directly by the media but rather by opinion leaders who swayed their vote.
The two-step flow
These findings led to the formation of the theory of the ‘two-step flow of communication’, a process where in the first step the influentials form their views and in the second step others follow their leads. This idea influenced other social science thinking, and led to the theory and models of the diffusion of innovation – the mechanism by which new ideas gain a foothold in the marketplace. The concept of the two-step flow was introduced to marketing and advertising by Ernest Dichter in 1966. He described a small-scale study, analysing how word-of-
mouth communication works. This study focused on what motivates a person to talk about a product or service, or to influence others’ opinions of it, and whatmotivates a person to listen to a recommendation, to be influenced by it and to act on it. In marketing, according to Dichter, the influentials are mostly commercial authorities, celebrities, connoisseurs and sharers of interests, who pass on the information to the listeners. The listeners, on the other hand, have less knowledge of a topic and are less involved with it. Following the lead of Lazarsfeld and Dichter, some more recent studies have viewed WOM communication as a two- step flow of information, and compared the roles of opinion leaders and of those who follow. The business schools at Yale and Penn State universities are among those that currently lead academic work on WOM communication. A number of commercial companies monitor and track activities of influentials and market leaders.
Buzz and blog
The search for non-traditional marketing methods and the growing use of the internet have brought in buzz marketing and blogging. Both involve word-of-
Buzz marketing aims to drive brands by word-of-mouth communication and by creating an impression that something of importance is happening.
Marketers can use buzz marketing and WOM communication in a number of ways. They can communicate with opin- ion leaders who, it is hoped, will in turn reach others in the marketplace. They can also create a shock, a piece of outlandish advertising or an unusual event, to stimulate media comment and publicity. This is often followed up by using a traditional marketing channel such as
TV or magazines, the internet, direct marketing, or even specific consumer groups, to generate purchase interest in the product concerned.
The idea of buzz marketing is not new, but started growing in the 1990s, specifically with an increase in the perceived need to make brands cool. Lately the idea has been linked to activities such as guerilla marketing, using WOM through influential people, opinion leaders or groups of important customers. Blog is short for Web Log. A blog usually comprises frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and web links. Its content is often a mixture of what is happening in a person’s life and what is happening on the web, a kind of hybrid diary/guide site. As such, blogging could be seen as a specific form of WOM (or word of writing) communication, and blogs and buzz marketing could, at times, be interrelated; however, the one-to-many, impersonal communication of blogging is pretty far removed from the original, one-to-one passing of oral messages, inherent in the first work on word of mouth. People maintained blogs long before the term was coined, but the trend gained momentum with the introduction of automated published systems, most notably blogs at blogger.com. Nowadays thousands of people use services such as bloggers to simplify and accelerate the process of publishing what they want
to say. The differentiation between various types of blogging is still somewhat fuzzy.
Some blog sites are open and free for all to post their comments. Others are attached to a company website and may be open for comments but edited for decent language. Some others may be closed to contributions from uninvited participants, who will be allowed to read only the comments of the invited and screened contributors. Additional, related internet forums are newsgroups and
chat rooms, where people can add their comment or just read and follow others’.
Blogs and commerce
Both blogs and blogging are of growing interest in the commercial world. Companies hope that open discussion forums on the internet can be used to follow trends, monitor preferences and utilize opinion leaders to bring products and services to the attention of a wider audience. (It is still doubtful whether a blogger should be regarded as an ‘Influential’, in Dichter’s sense, just because he
or she chooses to open his or her heart to the world, in public.)
One recent study estimated that there are now more than one billion postings on the web (including online discussion boards/forums/review sites, chat room, Google groups/Usernet forums, blogs and so on) and that this number is growing by 30% annually.
According to another study, bloggers –those who actually write blogs – account for less than 2% of the adult US population. But 5.2% of 18–24-year-old Americans admit to having kept an online diary, compared to only 1.9% of all adults. The Pew Internet & American Life
Project estimated that in the US the proportion of internet users who claim to read blogs could reach 27% at the end of 2005. It means that about 32 million Americans read blogs – enough to catch the attention of some fairly sizable advertiser – even if the coverage and reach of individual blogs may be very small.
There are two main ways in which advertisers can use blogs for marketing purposes: one is inserting ads on blog sites; the other is using the discussion for marketing a product or a service. As for coverage and cost, at its best a blog can only reach a group of consumers in some narrow niche, defined by interest in that site’s content. But they are inexpensive. Blog-ads (ads inserted on a blog’s site) can cost no more than $350 per week even on a frequently visited site.
But the tracking and the evaluation of the effect of WOM communication generally, and of buzz marketing and of blogs in particular, are still issues.
One qualitative method for tracking how WOM communication spreads was presented at the last MRS conference in the UK. The presentation examined the purchasing behaviour of buyers who were in contact with other people involved in their original decision. This qualitative technique allowed the researchers to map, investigate and understand all the different influences and influencers that were involved in the central decision. (The technique uses the Sociogram, presented originally by J L Moreno, in 1953.)
In the US a growing number of both established and newly formed companies claim to be able to monitor and track WOM, buzz communication and blog- ging. Most follow these activities on the internet and rely on automated trend- discovery systems and portals into the world of blogs, probably with the aid of word-base data-mining computer pro- grams. In some cases monitoring is supplemented with an internet-based panel, from which the research company can recruit special interest groups and follow discussion forums and chat rooms.
Usually these research companies claim they can help marketers plan, manage, activate and operate their WOM communication over the internet, by using patented technology and processes to engage customers in dialogues. Relying on metrics such as ‘volume’, ‘impressions’, ‘total reach’, ‘content’, ‘context’, ‘credibility’ and more, some research companies maintain they can help marketers solve specific business problems such as new product launches, product quality/early warnings, reputation management and relationship marketing.
But while internet-based WOM, buzz discussions or blogs can sometimes be tracked, they still cannot be measured in the traditional media metrics of reach (usually) and frequency, where planners usually use GRPs (Gross Rating Points).
What brought internet advertising into the mainstream of media planning processes was heavy investment in measuring reach and frequency, and generating related curves and models.
Internet-based WOM, buzz discussion and blogs, on the other hand, do not yet have these metrics. It is also not very clear how their impact, effectiveness or ROI could be evaluated.
Not yet a medium?
At atime when media are increasingly fragmented and all are looking for broadbased media-neutral planning, buzz discussions and blogs have many messages to offer. But even in Marshall McLuhan’sterms,this message may not yet be a medium.
Though relatively inexpensive and with the potential to reach some targeted groups, such consumer-generated messages are difficult to control or predict – as in one example, where the advertising slogan ‘Just Do It’ has generated many bizarre, x-rated blogs.
So for now, many major advertisers are adopting the wait-and-see approach. It is like an affair with a porcupine – proceed carefully.
Shula Bigman is president of Communication Options, based in New York, and is a consultant on broad-based 360communication strategies.
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