Jim Calhoun: Bringing science to viral marketing

In the brave new world of online advertising, your e-mail address book is a cash cow that many marketing companies, Jim Calhoun’s among them, want to milk.

Co-founder and CEO of PopularMedia, Calhoun understands that personal recommendations go a long way. In fact, he’s counting on it. He points to the popularity of online music, electronics and restaurant review sites on the Web as evidence. People seek out recommendations. We applaud ourselves for being the first to know about a deal, but relish the kudos of friends we tip off equally.

With that in mind, PopularMedia, and companies likeit that specialize in “viral marketing,” are going beyond the casual posting of recommendations on Web sites to capture business. PopularMedia creates incentives for customers to recommend products or services to their friends in their social network, either through e-mail, Web sites such as Facebook or other means, Calhoun said.

“It is a very word-of-mouth phenomenon,” Calhoun said.

As infectious as the name sounds, there is no junk-mail filter or other protection against viral marketing. But, in the end, you might not want to be protected. After all, it is coming from a friend.

Calhoun sees viral marketing as the future of online advertising. Instead of husbands rapping about the latest brand DVR they purchased at the bowling alley or wives chatting at the gym about a wonderful new shoe shop they’ve just discovered, recommendations arrive in your e-mail inbox or even on your cell phone.

“Consumers are really bombarded with ads these days and they’ve really started to tune them out,” Calhoun said. “But, people pay attention when their friends introduce them to something because it’s prescreened and relevant.”

And that’s where PopularMedia comes in. Its patent-pending Pop Commerce program is the first Web-publishing platform to bring science to viral marketing, according to Calhoun. The big difference between his firm and his competitors is that PopularMedia tests and tracks its customers’ response to see what is successful for its clients, said Calhoun, who now counts among his clients such well-known names as Borders books, Epic records, Dish Network and UNICEF.

businessBusiness & Real EstateScience and Technology

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Mayor London Breed, pictured here at a May news conference, will be fined for unethical behavior by The City’s Ethics Commission. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Commission fines Mayor Breed over $22,000 for ethics violations

The San Francisco Ethics Commission will fine Mayor London Breed a reported… Continue reading

Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, which features a comprehensive water-recycling system, on July 30, 2021. Water recycling in office buildings is seen as a promising sustainability effort, as well as a smart hedge against rising costs and future shortages. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
Salesforce Tower is part of a nationwide water recycling trend: Here’s how it works

By Patrick Sisson New York Times When Salesforce Tower in San Francisco… Continue reading

Riders enjoyed a trip on a Powell Street cable car when service returned on Monday. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
<ins></ins>
San Francisco’s cable cars return after 16-month absence

San Francisco’s cable cars are back, and they’re free for passengers to… Continue reading

Most Read