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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Kevin Jackson, Peter Silva

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New Research Quantifies the Monetary Value of an Online Share for the First Time

ShareThis today released the “Return on a Share Report,” a groundbreaking study that is the first to quantify the monetary value of online recommendations. The report, which will be presented at the Return on Sharing Summit to be held tomorrow in New York City in partnership with the Paley Center for Media, shows that shared online content, such as recommendations shared between friends, now influences consumer purchases more than price and brand, carries nearly as much weight as in-person recommendations and can motivate buyers to spend 9.5 percent more for a product. ShareThis and the Paley Center will convene a high-level group of media and marketing executives for conversations inspired by the report, which is available for free at www.sharethismoment.com.

“There’s no question consumers are actively looking online for recommendations and content to help them decide what to buy,” said Kurt Abrahamson, CEO of ShareThis. “We’ve all known that social sharing is important, but it’s been difficult to measure its impact on consumer spending -- until now. For the first time, this report offers a guide for brands to determine the value of social content, and to make informed decisions about where and how they need to invest to engage their customers.”

The study used two different methodologies to survey more than 6,000 consumers buying in three different industries: automotive, technology and consumer packaged goods (CPG). Some of the key findings include:

  • Across all three categories, the value of a positive online share is 9.5 percent, which means that shared reviews or recommendations over social networks increase the value and desirability of products, whether it’s store brands in a supermarket, personal electronics or an automobile.
  • A positive recommendation is more important to consumers than price and brand combined, with a relative importance of 57 percent for a recommendation, compared to 28 percent for price and 16 percent for brand across all three categories.
  • Positive recommendations can also enable manufacturers and retailers to charge more for products. In fact, a strong positive recommendation, on average, can motivate a consumer to pay 8.8 percent more. That translates to adding, on average, $3,700 to the price that a consumer is willing to pay for a vehicle, $27 to the price of a mini-tablet and $0.75 to the price of a typical supermarket item.
  • Conversely, negative recommendations can deter consumers from purchasing by an average of 11.0 percent across all categories.
  • The value of online sharing consistently outperforms both consumer ratings and reviews, and an online share carries essentially the same value as in-person recommendation.
  • The monetary value and influence of a recommendation or share is also related to the source -- where professionals and close friends and family members have the greatest impact, and strangers the least.

“The Paley Center’s mission is to provide the various stakeholders in the media industry with an independent forum to discuss important topics like this,” said Pat Mitchell, president and CEO, The Paley Center for Media. “We are proud to partner with ShareThis to present their original research and convene a dialogue that will advance our understanding of the sharing economy.”

This research is a crucial milestone for product marketers and publishers who no longer have to guess at the value of their social campaigns, and instead can use the evidence-based model and findings presented in this report. For product marketers, this report offers recommendations for engaging current customers as partners and brand evangelists, incentivizing online sharing, creating shareable experiences, monitoring social media, addressing negative reviews, using paid media to convert new customers, and using social insights to determine where and when to invest in media buys. The Return on a Share study is also a valuable resource for publishers who can use the results to guide content development, drive traffic, understand social metrics, and turn data into action for their developers to engage readers in new and innovative ways.

“We are seeing a fundamental shift in consumer purchasing behavior,” said Lisa Weinstein, President, Global Digital, Data and Analytics at Starcom MediaVest Group. “The explosion of social content like recommendations is having a real impact in people's day-to-day lives, including what we buy and how much we are willing to pay. While we’ve known intrinsically that online engagement is important, being able to quantify the monetary value of online recommendations and sharing, as these findings do, is incredibly important for brands.”

The Return on Sharing study was developed by Beresford Research of Westport, Conn., and conducted in two phases during late 2013 and early 2014. It is the first study of its kind to apply scientific, statistical methodology to the problem of determining the actual monetary value of a social share.

About ShareThis:

ShareThis uses large-scale social data to deliver breakthrough insights, audience building and advertising solutions across mobile and desktop environments. Every day millions of consumers use ShareThis to share content across more than 120+ social channels including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest -- giving the company unrivaled Web Wide Visibility. The company works with half of the Fortune 500 companies and is based in Palo Alto, Calif. To learn more visit http://www.sharethis.com.

About The Paley Center for Media:

The Paley Center for Media seeks to preserve the past, illuminate the present, and envision the future through the lens of media. With the nation’s foremost public archive of television, radio, and Internet programming, the Paley Center produces programs and forums for the public, industry professionals, thought leaders, and the creative community to explore the evolving ways in which we create, consume, and share news and entertainment. In an era of unprecedented change, the Paley Center advances the understanding of media and its impact on our lives. The Paley Center for Media was founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, a pioneering innovator in the industry. For more information, please visit www.paleycenter.org.

About Beresford Research:

Beresford Research helps companies seize market opportunities through thoughtful research based on innovative methodologies and rigorous execution. We create initiatives that are tightly aligned to our clients’ strategic needs, and provide unique industry insights. Founded in 1991 as a marketing and consulting firm, Beresford Research brings a strategic focus to every project. We partner with our clients to provide creative, customized solutions that deliver unprecedented value without the overhead. Clients include Booz & Co., Novartis, Oxford Economics, PhoCusWright, The Week and Towers Watson. For more information, please visit www.beresfordresearch.com.

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