Not the Same Old at the Mall
Changing Patterns of Media Usage

The Growing Science of Blog Tracking

One of my favorite companies, Intelliseek, got plenty of coverage in the Wall St. Journal this week, along with other companies that help marketers use blogs to track customer response to products and news. These companies put the blog postings into a more valuable context and the article shows several examples of product changes that were driven by blog-based research.

WSJ.com - Marketers Scan Blogs For Brand Insights (free WSJ content!!!)

Now, a growing number of marketers are using new technology to analyze blogs and other "consumer-generated media" -- a category that includes chat groups, message boards and electronic forums -- to hear what is being said online about new products, old ad campaigns and aging brands. Purveyors of the new methodology and their clients say blog-watching can be cheaper, faster and less biased than such staples of consumer research as focus groups and surveys....

Intelliseek and most other blog-watching services combine technology with some human analysis. They say their full services provide more insight than a simple keyword count. Some companies have developed text-analysis techniques as the result of funding or contracts from the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence services that monitor newspapers and other media. The technologies make use of software technologies known as "natural-language processing" and "unstructured-data mining" to understand even ungrammatical writing....

Umbria, with clients including Sprint Corp. and Electronic Arts Inc., says its natural-language analysis can determine blogger demographics based on language, subject matter and acronyms. OMG ("oh my God!") or POS ("parent over shoulder") are expressions defining Generation Y girls, or those ages 10 to 25; FUBAR ("fouled up beyond all recognition") is often used by male baby boomers. Such analysis can be important. Umbria says Laker guard Kobe Bryant has lost his cachet with most bloggers, but he is still the No. 2 National Basketball Association personality, behind LeBron James, among the boys of Generation Y, important buyers of videogames, sneakers and basketball jerseys.

David Rabjohns, president of blog watcher MotiveQuest, calls the field "online anthropology" and says he regards his firm as "almost a mouthpiece for the consumer."

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