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What is a friend worth?

Interesting article in Business Week. Not much new perhaps - but crystallizing. Goes as follows:

- digital friendship speak volumes about us as consumers (my focus here) and workers

- defining the value of these relationships has become a "defining" cahllenge for businesses..

- marketers are finding that if your friend buys something there is a better-than average chance that also you will buy it

It all relates to the sea change in media businesses. Not long ago there was a captive audience sitting through the TV news just to get to know how their favorite sports person made it or what the weather is likely to be tomorrow. Now we are swimming in an ocean of information. Every bit of news, information, music, picture, video - any time - any where - any way available. Filters needed instead of aggregators...

Result as put by Bernardo A Huberman at HP: "The value of most information has collapsed to zero. The only scarce resource is attention."

Challenging place for marketers using north of 500 billion of corporate budgets for still mostly traditional advertising - but also mostly surfed by and unclicked net advertising. So how can friendship networks help them help potential customers to find what they "really" need?

- statistically friends tend to behave alike - 3-4 times more likely to click on the same message (they do share interests)

- example mentioned where offer is tailored on friends' responses lift the average click rate from 0,9 to 2,7%.

Still an inexact science - but surely a trend worth watching. And today,s immense networks will time after time surprise us by creating phenomena that may even look logical in retrospect - but too few in big companies had time to look for because there is so much focus on the present quarter.

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