Northeastern University Researcher Finds Way to Measure Word-of-Mouth Effectiveness

Paper Discussing Groundbreaking Research Wins Industry Award

Northeastern University professor and internationally known scholar and expert in Word-of-Mouth (WOM) marketing, Dr. Walter Carl, is the author of a winning paper that was recognized by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) in the Best Use of WOMMA Terminology Framework category. The paper, titled “Measuring the Ripple: Creating the G2X Relay Rate and an Industry Standard Methodology to Measure the Spread of Word-of-Mouth Conversations and Marketing-Relevant Outcomes” will be published in WOMMA’s member-generated research collection, titled Measuring Word of Mouth Vol. 3.

Winning papers were chosen from the more than 20 that were submitted for inclusion in the third WOM marketing research anthology. By publishing these papers, WOMMA recognizes the authors for their contributions to the WOM marketing industry’s growing wealth of data.

“Word-of-mouth marketing has been seen as a powerful force in the marketplace, bringing impressive results to companies,” said Carl, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern. “But increasingly, brand clients of marketing organizations are demanding greater accountability for these results, and are calling for more precise metrics.”

Carl, founder of ChatThreads, a new company that measures word of mouth and commercializes the G2X methodology discussed in the paper, co-authored this work with Jennifer Oles, a researcher in the Department of Communication Studies at Northeastern University, and Matt McGlinn of BzzAgent, a company that manages a word-of-mouth media network of350,000 individuals in North America and the U.K.

Sponsored by Northeastern University and BzzAgent, the research discussed in this paper focuses on creating a comprehensive measurement approach for all forms of consumer conversations and user-generated content, regardless of media form, and its outcomes relevant to marketing. In order to measure WOM behavior across offline and online venues, the two organizations collaborated to create a methodology that would permit independent, third-party validation of program effectiveness. Titled G2X for “Generation 0 to X,” the methodology was designed to provide an avenue to validate the self-reporting of program participants, measure beyond the first generation of conversational partners and to provide, independent, third-party validation of campaign performance.

“This methodology provides a reliable way of calculating the number of people reached through a campaign and the outcomes of those conversations,” added Carl. “This information can be used to assess campaign effectiveness and benchmark against norms across industries and product and service categories.”

By providing an overview of a real-life campaign (the Sonicare Essence BzzCampaign®) in the paper, the authors demonstrated how the G2X methodology was applied to measure WOM effectiveness. Using this case study, they were able to provide concrete evidence that the effectiveness of WOM marketing programs can be independently measured and validated by a third party. They also predict that this conclusion opens the door for industry-wide-third-party measurement that is seen in more mature media industries like radio, TV and print.

For more information on Dr. Walter Carl’s research and to get a copy of this paper, please contact Renata Nyul at 617-373-7424 or at To learn more about ChatThreads, please visit

About Northeastern

Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston.Northeastern is a leader in interdisciplinary research, urban engagement, and the integration of classroom learning with real-world experience. The university’s distinctive cooperative education program, where students alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, is one of the largest and most innovative in the world. The University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in six undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools, and two part-time divisions. For more information, please visit

About ChatThreads

ChatThreads is a word of mouth tracking and measurement service that captures brand-related conversations over time and across generations, both online and offline. Founded by Dr. Walter Carl, prominent WOM researcher and member of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Advisory Board, ChatThreads is leading the way in enabling marketers to optimize and measure WOM outcomes. ChatThreads’s clients include Fortune 500 companies and leading brands such as Philips and Johnson & Johnson, as well as WOM media platforms and agencieslike BzzAgent and Arnold Worldwide. For more information, visit