NEW YORK: The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) has acquired another leading trade group, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).

This follows on from the acquisitions in 2014 of the Business Marketing Association and the Brand Activation Association, and in 2015 of the Advertising Educational Foundation (now known as the ANA Educational Foundation).

WOMMA’s membership is made up of companies committed to progressing the word of mouth marketing industry through advocacy, education, and ethics.

“This is an important day for the ANA,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “Just as our previous acquisitions allowed us to increase member services in disciplines where we found ourselves wanting, this opportunity allows us to focus more on word of mouth marketing and social media than we’ve been able to do in the past.

“It’s a great boon for our members and a significant step in our evolution as a national trade organization dedicated to serving all facets of the marketing community.”

WOMMA’s research has demonstrated that brand performance in social media can predict sales but a study last year in the Journal of Advertising Research found that online and offline worlds behave like separate ecosystems, with their own unique features and characteristics.

The researchers, Brad Fay and Rick Larkin of Engagement Labs, studied correlations between week-by-week social media and offline word-of-mouth conversations about more than 500 brands during a 12-month period.

They found that although there was a modest correlation between online and offline conversation volume, such correlations were too infrequent to be relied on by researchers and marketers.

And correlations were near zero for other metrics, such as sentiment, sharing of brand content, and engagement by influencers.

The authors cautioned that marketers “should avoid making the assumption that a social media strategy can substitute for a broader social influence strategy”.

Sourced from ANA; additional content by WARC staff