Now that's a lot of chatter. Spending behind word-of-mouth marketing hit $1.54 billion last year, according to PQ Media.
While most traditional channels saw spending slow, outlays behind w-o-m tactics including buzz, influencer, community and viral marketing grew 14.2 percent in 2008. Food and drink brands led the way, accounting for 30 percent of all w-o-m spending.
PQ Media is forecasting the w-o-m spending will increase another 10.2 percent this year despite the recession. Total spending is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate 14.5 percent between 2008 and 2013.
"Brands value and invest in w-o-m," said Patrick Quinn, CEO of PQ Media, in a statement. "Our research indicates that brands are allocating more of their budgets to long-term w-o-m campaigns, executing effective online and offline activities that resonate with consumers and their core groups."
Reaching consumers via online communities like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace was an obvious priority for marketers. Spending increased 26 percent in those channels to $119 million, per the report. The largest amount of marketing dollars ($832 million) was dedicated for w-o-m strategy and consulting. W-o-m agencies grew 18.7 percent to $197 million.
Adding a little perspective, Quinn said, "Despite impressive growth in the industry, w-o-m remains just a fraction of the overall advertising and marketing landscape. But, double-digit growth in this economic environment is a strong sign of an increasingly prevalent roles in the future."