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Internet as WOM?

Link: Guardian Unlimited Technology | Technology | Growing up with the wired generation.

Some choice quotes from a Guardian article based on an MTV report:

One in three children who
use the internet makes friends online. Children in the UK aged between
10 and 19 own approximately 7.5m mobile phones, on which they send many
of the 89m text messages written daily. And one pound in every 10 of
disposable income was spent by teenagers on mobile products and
services this year.

"Word of mouth as a
source of information has always been trusted, especially by younger
generations," says the report. "The speed of the internet means that
websites can provide information quicker, and its size means that a far
greater pool of talent can potentially be accessed in a single sitting.
Its information is trusted more because it is perceived to resemble
word of mouth… This is why viral marketing campaigns work so well."

I’m not sure that all internet is any more effective than traditional media at conveying word-of-mouth, that is a more trustworthy communication.  Is the internet as medium percieved to resemble word-of-mouth?  Surely it depends on the nature of the website and the context in which it is read?  I can see corporate clients jumping on this as justification for viral marketing and then producing another lame execution.  Viral marketing works when it pushes the brand beyond its comfort zone, i.e. the content and/or context involve some disjuncture from what you would expect, rather than the mechanism itself being the answer.

see also: textually.