1000heads: Word of mouth and the internet

Google dropped this blog post last week detailing a recent piece of US research they conducted with the KellerFay group to help understand the impact that the internet has had on offline word of mouth.

To quote the big G themselves:

Everyday in the US, there are currently 3.3 billion brand mentions. 2.4 billion conversations involve a brand each day which equates to approximately 1.4 impressions per conversation.

While the majority of conversations that involve a mention of a brand (WOM conversations) occur offline, the internet is now the primary source of information stimulating such conversations and it is the leading source for consumers to find information during and after a WOM conversation.

In more than 15% of WOM conversations, search engines are used to find additional information. Search websites have also been shown to be the number one place that consumers visit in order to take further action.

Those kind folk have even gone ahead and put together a (naturally rather google-esque) video for us also:

The best thing about this research (for us anyway), is that it was conducted by KellerFay and, as seems only fitting, the world’s leading offline word of mouth research and consulting group just so happen to use our London offices as their UK base of operations.

I grabbed Steve Thomson, MD KellerFay UK, at his desk just now and asked him for some comments about this new research:

“Ah, yes! I wondered when you’d ask me about that. The findings of that report are a stark reminder that buzz is not just about social media; search proved to be a powerful trigger of brand conversations. And brand marketers at some point want conversation to turn into actions, and for many consumers, search is still the go-to place when they’re ready to make a move.

Going forward, as more and more digital activity takes place in a mobile environment, we’ll need to learn better how online and offline conversations and actions interact and stimulate each other; social media and other online activities are not occurring in a vacuum among people holed up in their bedroom or chained to a desk.”

Steve’s right, buzz is not just about social media and search is, commonly, the place where everyone goes to make that move. However, , I’m not sure about the ‘search led’ stat, as in – sure if propensity to purchase is increased when search is referenced, but what content is that person reading once the search is complete? Is it social media? Is it a review site? Is it even an ad?

Either way, the figures in this video (as well as the accompanying study) are hard to ignore and, in the worlds biggest western market, it’s good to see that word of mouth is considered to be an important part of the overall marketing mix.

Hell, one might argue that it is the most important part…