MUNICH: A majority of German marketers are planning to make greater use of "alternative" channels such as social media, word of mouth and viral ads this year.

Webguerillas, the agency, partnered with GfK, the research firm, to survey 233 senior executives in the country, in an effort to establish their current priorities.

In all, 92.3% of the panel employed offline PR to promote their products at present, compared with 81.6% who were using the web for the same purpose.

Elsewhere, 81.1% of participants continued to invest in print ads, falling to 79.4% for internet advertising, 40% for TV spots and 36% for radio commercials.

With regard to social media, 56.7% of those polled had established a presence on properties like Facebook and StudiVZ to date, up from just 16% in a similar study published in 2007.

Around half of respondents were also encouraging netizens to provide direct feedback about their brands via blogs, online communities and forums.

A further 30% of contributors were active of video-sharing portals like YouTube or photo-sharing sites such as Flickr, a total that had climbed from 17.5% in 2007.

Keyword advertising was also favoured by 54.1% of industry specialists, with this tool having witnessed an expansion in uptake from 36% in 2007 and 14.5% in 2005.

Looking more broadly, 36.9% of executives were attempting to leverage word of mouth marketing, an improvement from 27.6% in 2007 and 14.5% in 2005.

Over a third of contributors said they preferred this sort of recommendation-based approach as it enhanced the "quality" of their impact among consumers.

Viral marketing, such as web video, had attracted 39.1% of the sample, more than double the number recorded in 2003.

This form of communication was perceived as offering considerable extra reach thanks to peer-to-peer distribution, according to 38.2% of the cohort as a whole.

Guerrilla marketing was also popular with 30.9% of respondents, a figure that was up from 25.5% in 2007 but still below the score of 33.1% posted in 2005.

Nearly 40% also regarded traditional advertising as being "too boring" to make a substantial impression on their target audience.

As such, 97.4% of executives said they would either maintain or increase their investment in alternative marketing this year, although these channels were set to take under 10% of budgets overall.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff