Monday, April 09, 2007

Survey Gives Good Reviews to Online Product Reviews

Survey Gives Good Reviews to Online Product Reviews

By Todd Wasserman

NEW YORK -- When it comes to influencing online purchases, positive reviews in Amazon may trump online ads, per a new survey.

One in three Internet users report their purchase decisions are influenced by sites with social content, Amazon being the most influential, according to a report from iProspect and JupiterResearch being released this week.

The study, based on a poll of 2,223 respondents in January, sought to measure how consumers use social networking sites. Though Amazon isn't usually thought of as such a site, the survey defined a social networking location as one that lets users post their own content. In Amazon's case, that means reviews.

Robert Murray, president of iProspect, Boston, said it's unclear whether a positive review in Amazon is more effective than an ad, but: "It's human nature. People trust people."

Among other findings in the survey:

• Search engines get more visitors than social networking sites. Forty percent of adults surveyed visit Yahoo! on a daily basis versus 12% for MySpace.

• YouTube appears to skew male. Twenty-eight percent of men visit the site at least once a month compared to 12% for women.

• The younger the user, the more likely they are to visit and interact with a social networking site. Sixty-eight percent of 18-24-year-olds surveyed visited MySpace over the past month versus 65% for YouTube and 42% for Facebook.

Murray said the data also shows that up to 90% of visitors to social networking sites don't post. That, in part, showed the gap between hype for such social media and the reality, he said. "It's like when blogs first came out a few years ago and all you heard about was how blogs were changing everything," he said. "We tend to overstate the importance of new technologies."

Still, Murray said the item marketers should take away from the survey is that the brands that exploit the two-way communication potential of Web 2.0 will gain an edge over competitors. "You want to find a way to engage with the community in a dialogue," said Murray.

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