Sunday, August 2, 2009

Word of mouth (WOM) is the most trusted form of advertising in India

According to the Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, conducted by Nielsen Consumer Research company that provides insights on the preferences of internet consumers across the world, word of mouth is the most trusted form of advertising in India with 93% votes, followed by editorial content such as articles in newspaper with 87% votes and Brand websites with 78% votes. This comes at a time when internet advertising is booming, with newer brands associating themselves with internet and testing new waters.

“The main problem is that there are too many online users and just very few websites, this results in just the same ads on every website or a great clutter. So the ads don’t attract the audiences at all, hence not serving the purpose they should,” says Rammohan Sundaram, Founder of Networkplay.

Alok Kejariwal, CEO,, feels that internet is at its nascent stage, so it will take some time for internet advertising to catch. “Any medium takes at least 20-30 years to develop. Further more, internet advertising intrudes personal space. It strikes when you are reading your personal mail or browsing through the net; it gets very irritating.”

According to Sundaram, there are many ads which are placed just to have an online presence. The advertisers don’t get into a deep research as to which site will suit the product, the placement of the ad.

But does this mean that online advertising is not on the right track? “There’s no major flaw in online advertising or its approach, it’s just that people find word of mouth more credible since it’s an unbiased and unpaid review. There’s no hidden motive behind it, which makes people trust it blindly. This difference between the trust on word of mouth and any form of advertising will remain forever,” says Mudit Khosla, Founding General Manager, Strategic Relations Group,
“The only way one can improve the trust is by involving the audiences. In my website we invite our audiences to write comments of services they have used.
This not only gives these audiences a platform to speak up but the others also get a chance to read unbiased opinions on the same website, “asserts Khosla.

Harish Bahl, MD, Quasar Media has a positive outlook, “According to me, the search results are very contradictory. A major portion of online advertising are the social websites, where audiences write blogs, connect and exchange information, or in other words, spread word of mouth. The Nielsen report saying that word of mouth is more trustworthy than online advertising proves that it’s a win-win situation for online advertising.”

“Internet is definitely growing fast and so will internet advertising, it just that products should be sold in a better way to gain the consumers’ trust,” believes Khosla.

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