Mar 23, 2009 9:30am

The dirty little secret of Web 2.0 — the version in which users like you create much of the content — is that companies have been trying for years to "monetize" it, and mostly failing.  Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, Digg and the like are wildly popular, but they’re not making money the way Google and Amazon did. Here’s a sign of change, though. Jupiter Research (since merged with Forrester) did a survey, predictably showing that people are cutting back on their online purchases at the moment — but they are increasingly influenced by others’ online reviews as they shop around for good deals. Some numbers: First, not that you needed another survey to tell you this, 50% of the 800 people surveyed said they would hold back on spending for a car, 46% for travel, 38% for home improvement and so forth. But then the survey showed that shoppers are going to more sites before they click "buy," doing more research, reading others’ reviews. Leading sources used: Store/retailer websites: 89% Search engines: 86% Manufacturer websites: 78% User ratings and reviews: 77% Purchaser’s recommendations: 66% E-mail recommendations: 61% Lists of best sellers: 59% The survey was done for a couple of marketing outfits, Bazaarvoice and richrelevance, which are oriented toward Web 2.0 and have a stake in making user-generated content work, but that doesn’t invalidate Jupiter’s findings.  More HERE from the Center for Media Research. So when you go to an e-commerce site, and see a button that says, "Create your own review," click on it.  Maybe you’re helping to change the world.

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