In a recent blog post, Jim Nail, chief strategy and marketing officer at Cymfony, wrote about a study that provocatively proclaimed, "Spending on Conversational Marketing will Outpace Traditional Marketing by 2012" (see summary).

Is that even possible? To find out, I got together with Jim and Pete Blackshaw, executive vice-president at Nielsen Online Strategic Services. Like Jim, Pete is wary of the "conversation" hubbub.

What ensued was a very lively debate about whether marketers are prepared to support conversational marketing—and the answer isn't very pretty. As Jim and Pete point out, not only are marketers not using Web 2.0 tools to create a conversation, but to even listen effectively they need to overhaul their infrastructures—big time.

Listen to this lively debate:

Link to Original Audio Source

Jim Nail has an extensive background in integrated marketing through his 22-year career that spans online marketing, market research, brand advertising, and direct marketing. Jim was an analyst at Forrester for eight years, focusing on how marketing strategies and tactics must adapt to technology-driven changes in consumer media-consumption habits.

Prior to joining Forrester, Jim helped launch Web advertising network AdSmart, where he served as director of marketing. He spent 15 years planning and managing integrated marketing campaigns at leading advertising agencies, including Ogilvy & Mather Direct, Draft Worldwide, Bates USA, and Hill Holliday.

Pete Blackshaw, whose professional background encompasses politics, interactive marketing, and brand management, is chief marketing and customer satisfaction officer of Cincinnati-based Nielsen BuzzMetrics, a buzz analytics firm that helps brands measure, track, and quantify consumer-generated media (CGM). The company also manages BlogPulse, one of the Web's top blog portals.

A former interactive marketing leader at P&G and founder of consumer feedback portal, Pete co-founded the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). He is a frequent speaker at interactive marketing industry events, serves as Ad-Tech advisory board member, and authors several blogs, including ConsumerGeneratedMedia.comand

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Paul Dunay is director of global field and interactive marketing for Bearing Point (