NEW YORK: Word-of-mouth marketing on social media remains limited by the wider failings of the digital ecosystem, a paper in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) has argued.

Gian M. Fulgoni, Co-Founder/CEO of research firm comScore, and Andrew Lipsman, the company’s VP/Marketing, discussed this topic in The Downside of Digital Word of Mouth and the Pursuit of Media Quality – How Social Sharing is Disrupting Digital Advertising Models and Metrics.

As long as the viral space is crippled by problems like bot fraud and limited viewability, they argued, social word of mouth will remain flawed because of its imprecision.

But they did offer a positive note: “With the promise of improved metrics, marketers can be assured that a cleaner, more transparent environment and improved economics are within reach … ensuring that the inventory being bought is pollutant free, legitimate, and appearing in effective advertising spaces.”

Elaborating on this theme, they argued that “the fundamental metrics of media planning and campaign measurement – impressions, reach, frequency, and demographics – need a higher level of validation to ensure that the inventory being bought is clean, legitimate, and appearing in environments conducive to effective advertising”.

Among those layers of validation, Fulgoni and Lipsman recommended “the measurement of viewable impressions, sophisticated detection and removal of invalid traffic, and brand-safety protections”.

The authors also suggested that advertisers and agencies “avoid shopping only for bargain basement CPMs because these impressions often come from the worst-offending sites as far as trafficking in fake news, low-quality content, or wholesale bot fraud”.

They further advised publishers to “resist the urge to chase audience scale through clickbait or third-party traffic buying that perpetuates the deterioration of digital advertisement buying”.

And, they insisted, “Programmatic exchanges can build in more safeguards and filters to surface quality inventory that produces not only reach and impressions but engagement and attention”.

Data sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff