New evidence shows digital ROI is falling ? article for marketing and digital consultants

Digital ROI Marketing ROI Digital marketing Digital marketing is failing Evidence based marketing trust in google at 3% trust in facebook trust in tumblr trust in youtube trust in instagram trust in social media social media brands are failing

Byron Sharpe is obsessed with making marketing evidence based. He points out that 99.9% of all marketeers don’t have a full understanding of their brand assets. Our new data is startling, from the evidence, digital marketing is failing. Trust in Google is at 3% and that’s the start, just reflect on that figure alone, if you trust something at 3%, how likely are you to trust digital advertising from Google?

Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the internet, wants to make the internet private again. Now there’s a revolutionary idea. We’ve taken the time to get original data to look at trust in the internet. Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, and Google all have trust levels at less than 5% according to an independent study we commissioned.  Linked in comes in at a hefty 11%, please e-mail us for the original data. ( We know that people believe in word of mouth, 92% of people believe in it over all other forms of marketing. 2 The results are shocking, and they suggest that marketeers aren’t investing in a balanced way. 80% of all Word of Mouth is had face to face today according to Engagement labs. ROI on Word of Mouth marketing is 33% i.e. 1 in 3 people will check something out based on a face to face recommendation. For AdWords, the ROI is 0.02, for TV ads, 0.01-0.001 % according to Byron Sharpe who wrote, “How brands grow,” the first empirical study of marketing.  Yet our focus is on digital spending and it doesn’t make evidence based sense. Compared to just 2 years ago, 60% of all product categories are performing worse in terms of click through on Google adwords.Unless you’ve got a lot to spend, or you’re in a culture that allows extreme risk taking you are very unlikely to beat these odds. So why not go back to the future and look at WOM because trust in the internet is falling across multiple benchmarks.

So, let’s look at the facts and how they relate to trust. We now know that the internet’s new ‘Fake news’ is ‘Fake views’. Long gone is the time you could trust online views. Here are the facts. Amazon has a huge problem with Fake reviews to quote: “To support these fake reviews, black hat service providers use automated buyer accounts (or bots) to upvote positive reviews for their seller clients…”According to the UK newspaper The Times, 2/3’s of all of TripAdvisor’s hotel recommendations are thought to be suspect. That’s right, the site that is supposed to be impartial is providing Fake views. Saoud Khalifah, Fakespot’s founder, estimates that across all categories 30% are fake reviews.But the answer, surely, is the behemoth of Facebook a trusted giant, surely, we can advertise on that and do well? Well, the well isn’t well. Our new data, conducted by an impartial third party (maru/usurv) shows that 72% of people trust Facebook much, much less than they did just 2 years ago. And it was the only social media platform that scored over 11% on our social media trust index.

As a result, people are flocking back to what they trust – face to face referrals and proper word of mouth. 75% of people trust good old-fashioned face to face word of mouth much significantly more than they did 2 years ago, that was the result of our survey done by maru/usurv. It was based on a cross section, nationally representative survey of the UK. The UK is interesting culturally because you could say -  it’s a third American, a third European and a third British culturally – so the results are likely to be indicative of a much wider set of figures in different countries.  

So, we don’t trust the internet anymore. Fake reviews are rife, and we don’t trust the so-called trusted social media giants. Our data also shows that trust in digital advertising is falling off a cliff. The so-called promise of page 1 of Google remains the empty promise of countless e-mails from countless providers, it’s become like a mythical dream. Our challenge is simple. Digital is only 20% of all conversations about companies6 so why spend so much money on something that’s clearly the minority? In addition, we know that what people put online isn’t the same as face to face. People post about what they are doing, funny stuff and where they are online. Very few people write a glowing reference for a hairdresser, telco, finance broker or lawyer online. Reflect on it a moment and you’ll realise this finding, by engagement labs, is right.

About 60% of marketeers think word of mouth is the best form of advertising but only 6% know how to do it. Well, if you want to change that, you can start out by knowing where you are at – do our 10-question test and you’ll know how you fair in terms of your word of mouth knowledge. Our word of mouth course is based on the most complete reviews of academia on the subject, 200 case studies and real world success. So why not test your own Word of Mouth? We call it ‘test your readiness’ , half way down on the left hand side of our homepage. But in the meantime, Tim Berners-Lee has called it, the internet is faulty. Digital is the new mainstream, it’s no longer cool, it’s not commercially clever, it’s failing and it’s certainly not your optimal marketing ROI solution. We’d invite you to learn about the science of WOM because commercially, that’s what the data says we should do.








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About the author

Jake Pearce

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"Different to get better results". Jake is obsessed with marketing ROI. He helps companies amplify word of mouth to get business more easily. He uses Meanomathics to boost Comms cut through 10-30%. He uses co-creation to future proof innovation - he turned around a drinks category providing 15% growth using professional co-creation. And he helps top CEO and celebrities with their personal branding and brand purpose, which links back to Word of Mouth marketing. 

Worked with Vodafone,Kellogg'sMcDonalds,ANZ,McDonalds,Suntory,Danone,HSBC,Barclays,BAT,Meat Brands,Saatchi&Saatchi,Draft FCB,Fairbrother Industries, Les Mills, Holmes Place, Grey and a host of digital start-ups.

Jake Pearce is a specialist in brand planning, development & innovation. Jake is currently working on a Word of Mouth Marketing start-up, a personal branding start-up and new delivery systems for wellness products. - for brand development and innovation - for word of mouth marketing expertise


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