Free Media Meme & More

Testimonials are a powerful selling tool and they could provide a way to support citizen media — provided there is a way to protect and certify that the referral is the unvarnished truth. Here’s the idea. Let’s imagine that small publishers or self-publishers could register their endorsement of a product or service so as to preserve a copy of their original referral. It would seem reasonable that they post some information about themselves.

What if the person making the referral then had a way to create an advertising or selling mechanism on their website that enabled them to collect a fee for information referrals or for sending a consumer to complete a transaction?

I know the current advertising world is rife with fake testimonials. The January 2006 Consumer Reports makes that point in an article entiled “The problem with true stories.” (It’s not online otherwise I’d point to it.) But I’ve experienced this deception personally. I once noticed a billboard that had a picture of a woman who worked in my building. The billboard showed her talking about some social issue. I brought it up when I met her in the halls — and learned that she’d been paid $1,000 to appear, as a representative “face” by the ad agency that sponsored the campaign.

So I’m not silly enough to think that testmonials can be kept clean as a class. But I’m at least foolish enough to speculate that trustworthy testimonials might be part of the mini media support structure.

Found out? Search growth is flattening accoring to a comScore Networks report summarized by MediaPost. What does that portend other than perhaps a reason for Google’s slower-growth warning? Could it be an early sign of audience fatigue with the bewildering array of what is made available through the Web?

Audience Aggregation: Newspapers can use their brand identity to become the core attraction of cyberspace, suggests this bit from Poynter.

Niche Print Suffers: “BTB advertisers increasingly are diverting print budgets to the Web, and there is little indication that this will change,” reports Direct Marketing magazine. Whether effective or merely faddish, the Internet continues to suck up the bucks.

Tom Abate
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media