Pretty much any brand will tell you that social media is marketing's Next Big Thing—the perfect way to snare the attention of younger shoppers, at least for the half-second such a feat is possible. But a new study out of the U.K. reveals that some—nay, most—companies harbor serious reservations about the social Web, even as they look for new ways to tap its marketing potential.
Sixty-nine percent of companies participating in a new study by London-based intellectual-property firm Marks & Clerk said they regard social media "as the next big threat to protecting their brands online." In particular, 73 percent said that being online today risks exposing a brand to "unfair or inaccurate treatment"—largely via the unrestricted commentary that dominates online—and 81 percent said the Web fosters a culture in which a brand's intellectual property is likely to be exploited. What's more, respondents directed most of their ire at Google (shock of shocks!). Some 58 percent said the search engine had grown too powerful. And asked whether, in the name of healthy competition, it was fair to be able to buy a rival's trademarked brand name as a keyword in online search marketing, nearly 63 percent answered "not at all." In fact, more than 70 percent were uncomfortable with the business ethics of Google's AdWords.
So, maybe brands should just abandon the Web altogether, huh? Not likely. Asked whether they felt the Web is becoming a "primary driver" of business growth today, a little over 94 percent said yes.
—Posted by Robert Klara