BzzAgent to Agents: Spill the Beans, Or Else

  |  December 6, 2005   |  Comments

Volunteer marketers who don't disclose their relationship with BzzAgent will be required to attend online training.

Controversial word-of-mouth firm BzzAgent has changed its policies to hold its volunteer marketers to a higher disclosure standard.

The firm is stepping up requirements that people tell their friends and contacts about their relationship with the marketing company, saying that such disclosure improves campaign results. The new policy also addresses BzzAgent's longstanding critics, who say the company's volunteers don't always reveal that they're being rewarded -- with points or free merchandise -- to talk about a particular product.

The new policy requires all new BzzAgent volunteers to confirm that they've read and will adhere to the company's code of conduct. That code requires participants to "make certain others are aware" that they've volunteered to be part of a buzz marketing effort. The company added the requirement to its code last year.

"Requiring disclosure is not just the proper decision from an ethical standpoint," said Dave Balter, CEO of BzzAgent, "but it is also the smart policy to drive optimal campaign performance."

The company has also added a check box to the interface volunteers use to report to BzzAgent about their word-of-mouth marketing activities. They must check the box to confirm the person they "buzzed" to was aware they were a BzzAgent volunteer. BzzAgent says it will require any members who don't comply to attend an online training session on disclosure.

BzzAgent says its new stance stems from a study conducted by Walter Carl, a professor at Northeastern University. The report found that disclosure created trust, combated a stigma about "stealth" marketing, and increased the depth of product-related discussions. Carl came to his conclusions by examining 270,000 word-of-mouth reports submitted by BzzAgent volunteers.

Despite the controversy surrounding the company, BzzAgent has managed to attract well known clients, including Anheuser-Busch, Cadbury Schweppes, Lee Jeans, Levi's and Sun Microsystems.

ClickZ Live San Francisco This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pamela Parker

Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

WEBINARS

Jobs

    • Interactive Product Manager
      Interactive Product Manager (Western Governors University) - Salt Lake CityWestern Governors University, one of the 20 largest universities...
    • SEO Senior Analyst
      SEO Senior Analyst (University of Phoenix (Apollo Education Group)) - San FranciscoSEO Senior Analyst   Position Summary...
    • SEM & Biddable Media Manager
      SEM & Biddable Media Manager (Kepler Group LLC) - New YorkAs an Optimization & Innovation Manager at Kepler Group, you will be on the bleeding...