Advertising Stimulates Word of Mouth

Is there a role for advertising in a Word of Mouth world? Ed Keller, CEO of the The Keller Fay Group, said approximately 20 percent of word of mouth is stimulated by advertising. Influencers are three times as likely to talk about ads. Their studies, based on interviews since 2006 where individuals where asked what they talked about the day before, found 21. 6 percent of conversations included some reference to advertising. Ad-influenced WOM is about 20 percent more likely to include an active recommendation to buy or try the product.

“The rise of word of mouth doesn’t portend the end of advertising,” Keller said. “One of the most important roles of advertising in the future will be to stimulate word of mouth. Targeting makes a difference. Targeting influencers gives you three times the impact from that advertising.” Some companies have specifically address word of mouth in their ads. For example, BlackBerry ran ads advising consumers who want to learn about the devices to talk to a current user.

Are there differences in online and offline word of mouth? Keller said not only is there much more offline word of mouth than online, but offline tends to be more positive and include more active recommendations. About half of online word of mouth is teenagers and much more of it is negative.

“While people talk about online impressions, there are 3.5 billion brand impressions created every day through word of mouth,” he said.

Robert Gunther


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