July 19, 2007 07:00 ET

Blogs Impact Corporate Image And Product Purchases

In Both Positive And Negative Fashion

Attention: Business/Financial Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Tech/Telecomm Editor VANCOUVER/BC--(Marketwire - July 19, 2007) - Blogs are a fast growing phenomenon on the Internet and an area that has massive potential impact on our world, especially in marketing. A new study released by Ipsos Reid, "Blogging in Canada" , has found that while some adults in Canada appear to take the information in a blog at face value, many others exhibit skepticism about what they see in blogs. Even though two thirds of adult Internet users in Canada say they feel the information in blogs is a reliable way to keep up-to-date on new technology (10% very/ 54% somewhat reliable), one in eight (13%) feel the information is not at all reliable. The mixed review given the information in blogs is even more pronounced when the subject is a corporation. When it comes to forming an opinion about a company or corporation, only half of Canadian Internet users feel the information in a blog would be reliable (4% very/ 47% somewhat reliable), while the other half feel it is not (34% not very/ 15% not at all reliable).

Scott Patton, Senior Research Manager in Western Canada says, "Canadians are not just a bunch of mindless consumers. They look at what they are reading in blogs and ask themselves, 'What is the context of this information?', 'Who is writing it?' and 'What is their interest in this?' The answers to these questions will have a huge impact on how they judge the reliability of the information."

The potential of blogs in marketing campaigns really shows through when we consider how they could affect a product purchase decision. When asked what impact positive comments regarding a product or service in a blog would have on the likelihood of purchasing it, one-in-ten adult Canadian Internet users said it would make them much more likely to purchase (10%) the product and half said it would make them somewhat more likely to purchase (51%). The effect of negative comments in a blog is a little stronger, with one in eight saying that negative comments about a product or service would make them much less likely to purchase (12%) and just over half saying it would make them somewhat less likely to purchase (54%).

Internet users who are experienced in using blogs are more likely to be affected one way or another by comments about a product or service in a blog. One-in-six "bloggers" (17%) said that negative comments would make them much less likely to purchase and an equal number (17%) said that positive comments would make them much more likely to purchase.

Considering blogs have only been around less than ten years and only became a mainstream activity about four years ago, they are getting a tremendous amount of attention among Canadian Internet users. One in three Canadian adults with Internet access report having visited a blog (34%), with half of those saying they visited a blog within the past week (19% today; 10% yesterday; 22% two to seven days ago). Not surprising, Internet users more likely to report having visited a blog include: 18 to 34 year olds (45% 18-34; 32% 35-54; 21% 55 and older); those with higher education levels (21% high school or less; 36% some postsecondary; 40% university graduates); and, men (36% male; 31% female).

Blog visitation has the potential to expand very rapidly in the near future. Three in ten online Canadian adults who said they have never visited a blog before report being likely to in the next 12 months (7% very likely; 24% somewhat likely). If even half of these follow through and visit a blog, total visitation among Canadian Internet users could climb to the 45% range in the next year. As could be expected, younger Internet users may be slightly more likely to do so than older users (31% 18-34; 33% 35-54; 28% 55+).

There are a number of distinguishing features of Canadian "bloggers" that set them apart from Internet users who don't visit blogs. In general, bloggers appear to be using the Internet more heavily in their daily routine. A few interesting facts about bloggers vs. non-bloggers include:

1) Bloggers report spending 56% more time connected to and actively using the Internet in an average week than non-bloggers (23.4 hours vs. 15.0 hours, respectively);

2) Bloggers report more time spent using the Internet overlapping other activities, like watching TV, listening to the radio, working or spending time with family and friends, than non-bloggers (average of 7.7 vs. 5.2, respectively); and,

3) Bloggers are more likely to report participating in nearly every online activity tracked, including: online banking (83% bloggers; 65% non-bloggers); comparison shopping for products (81% bloggers; 65% non-bloggers); purchasing products and services online (80% bloggers; 62% non-bloggers); and, clicking through on website advertising (73% bloggers; 50% non-bloggers).

A Google search on the word "blog" returns over one billion hits; while this may not seem to be the most effective way to find a specific blog, it is exactly what the majority of bloggers in Canada are doing. More than half of adult Canadians who have visited a blog say they use a search engine (53%) to find a blog of interest. Once they have found a site or blog they like, bloggers tend to bookmark them; four-in-ten say they have done so (42%). Of course, there are various other ways that Canadians find blogs, including using personal or professional networking sites (17%), checking out news outlet websites (14%) and searching company websites (13%).

Scott goes on to say, "Blogs have moved far beyond use as a way to inform family friends about how the world tour is progressing. Marketers need to be aware of the power of blogs and how to make the most effective use of them to generate interest in not only ideas, but in the products they are presenting to the public. Considering the dual edged sword that blogs represent, you need to be out there with your thoughts before your competition beats you to the punch."

Access the full release, with methodology, at: http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/pressrelease.cfm?id=3580

All Ipsos News Releases are available online at: http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/


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