21 July 2007

What's Plaguing Viral Marketing

I hope most of you can get to this Ad Age article by Matthew Creamer before it disappears into the subscription black hole:
What's Plaguing Viral Marketing
Since the term "viral marketing" snuck into vogue in the mid-1990s, the ad business has been sold on sickness as the way to describe how information, ideas and influence spread through populations of consumers. Once a sideshow to traditional marketing, it has developed its own canon of research and books … But now a long-taken-for-granted central principle of viral marketing - that large-scale changes in behavior can begin like disease epidemics, with just a few highly connected people - is facing its toughest challenge yet. At the center of a growing fray is an unlikely figure: an Australian-born sociology professor at Columbia University named Duncan Watts, who comes armed with mathematical models that, he believes, unsettle much of what you think you know about viral marketing.
Also watch the video. It's a good one. About two-thirds of the way through, Mr. Creamer sounds a lot like Jack Trout:
"... In prior days, we used to try and find the "early adapters" for a product. We figured they had big mouths and loved to tell their friends and neighbors about their new widget ... This all brings me to my word-of-mouth on word-of-mouth marketing. It's not the next big thing. It's just another tool in your arsenal ..."
The article confirms much of what I've been saying over the last few years:

The Brouhaha Over WOMM

The Brouhaha Over WOMM Returns

And a comment left about the article sums it up for me:
"Thank you, Dr. Watts, for debunking the too-often-quoted-without-thinking trendy marketing theory espoused by Gladwell and Keller that it takes 500 blabbermouths to build and sustain a business."

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