A quick clarification on my quote in a BusinessWeek article this week by Catherine Holahan entitled Raising the Bar on Viral Web Ads. Toward the end of the piece, I ask: "If everyone is doing word-of-mouth marketing, who can consumers trust?" My comment doesn't reflect a lack of confidence in the power of word-of-mouth marketing (I remain a proud member of WOMMA...even sit on it's board and helped co-found the group), but in the context of the exploding online video space, a fuzzy fog of murkiness is emerging about what's truly authentic (100% by the consumer) versus what's part of an organized, incented, agency-driven marketing campaign. This all begs, once again, important questions about disclosure and transparency. One one hand it's great news that advertisers are discovering the power of video (and no question it's rationalizing attention away from offline TV to the more promising online space), but how do make sure we don't "spoil the commons" among consumers who flock to CGM venues like YouTube, Revver, or Sharkle because or perceived orginality, authenticity, and purity among the creators? If, for example, Mentos/Diet-Coke had been a formal creation of one of their formal ad agencies, should consumers have been given a heads up? By year end, dozens of brands will have well-organized (mostly promising) programs inviting consumers to "participate" in ad creation -- usually against pre-established parameters and frameworks consistent with the brand strategy -- and winners will be hoisted up like heros in the Olympics. How will that content be labeled, or should it? In a year, how much of YouTube's shelf-space will be the by-product of "creative democracy" (the current model) versus the online video equivalent of slotting fees or product placement? And should that be disclosed? All difficult - yet important and timely -- questions. The credibility of CGM is at stake.