Bloggers will have to 'watch' what they say from now on following dramatic new findings. A survey reveals that the practice is now more effective than TV advertising.
In what was the first of its kind, a multi-agency study questioned people across Europe to assess the business impact of blogging. What they found was that blogs are now driving purchase decisions with 52 per cent of Europeans saying that they were more likely to buy a product after reading positive comments from private individuals about it on the internet.
Ben Camm-Jones, news editor of Webuser magazine, said he was not surprised. "Blogs talk to the customers in a language they understand, it is easy for expert reviews to get bogged down in technical speak and exclude the general public," he said.
In his view, the power of blogs is perfectly demonstrated by the recent Pixmania case in which the online retailer got in contact with a customer personally after being given a bad review on Amazon and offered a refund in exchange for the removal of the review. Camm-Jones said that what started in the 1990s as online diaries and commentary is now only second to newspapers as the most trusted source of information.
Being considered a trusted source of information by 24 per cent of Europeans, blogging was only beaten by newspaper articles with 30 per cent of the vote. Trailing in their wake was TV advertising and email marketing with 17 and 14 per cent respectively. In his annual report Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive of WPP, one of the world's largest advertising groups, said: "Decision-makers in media owners and agencies tend to be in their fifties and sixties; their sons and daughters and grandchildren are shifting in ever greater numbers to multi-tasking on the web, personal video recorders, video-on-demand, mobiles, podcasts and internet games. Many leading executives are in denial."
Of the five countries surveyed — UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — France was the most blog-savvy with 90 per cent of respondents familiar with blogs and the UK was the least with only 50 per cent having heard of the term. The term itself, a short for web blog, was coined in 1999 by Peter Merholz when he broke 'web blog' into 'we blog' in the sidebar of his blog Peterme.com. If the trend continues to grow so rapidly it will not be long before calls for the term to be added to the dictionary.