Big Bucks Buys Buzz, Says Nielsen

You can’t buy love, supposedly. But don’t believe it if somebody says you can’t buy buzz.

A new study by Nielsen Buzzmetrics and BASES, a Nielsen forecasting and consulting service, found that blog activity surrounding the release of consumer goods is directly linked to the level of advertising that precedes the product launch.

In fact, the researchers determined the companies whose products experienced the top 10 percent of blog interest, or buzz, spent nearly $20 million on paid media for product launches. Those companies that spent $15 million dollars on launch advertising generated the next 40 percent of blog buzz, said Nielsen.

But the businesses that went cheap and spent an average of only $5 million on advertising “generated the bottom 50 percent” of buzz, according to the study.

“Marketing strategies that separate advertising and paid media from pure word-of-mouth tactics can be severely misguided,” Nielsen said in a statement describing the study.

The study, “The Origin & Impact of CPG New Product Buzz,” involved consumer-packaged goods across several subcategories. All products were launched in the United States between 2005 and 2006.

One of the study’s authors, BASES product development VP Robert Mooth, acknowledged that “splintering media sources” and new consumer-created media are calling into question the value of “one-way, mass-media advertising models.” And the study noted some products inherently create more buzz than others. High on the list of buzzed-about goods were over-the-counter drugs and “edgy brands,” according to Nielsen.

And, in what might seem to be stating the obvious, the company said its research marked the “first-ever evidence” that lots of buzz boosts product sales.

Nielsen said a formal model for predicting buzz has yet to be created, but “category familiarity” and “product distinctiveness” are usually important ingredients when it comes to blitzing the blogosphere.

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