Seeking Smart Solutions
According to Michel LeMay, VP of marketing at Nstein, mere keyword search will not always produce the kind of intelligence businesses need because of the way the data is structured online. Take blogs, for example, LeMay says. "When you crawl blogs and you want to index them sometimes you have to work a bit on the content because not all blogs are structured the same way," he says. Nstein believes that adding business intelligence to the mix makes information-gathering a whole lot smarter.
Nstein's Public Image Monitoring (PIM) solution combines Web content, enterprise search, and business intelligence into a package that merges the muscle of IBM's WebSphere Information Integrator (WebSphere II) OmniFind Edition with Nstein's own BI search enablers and text analytics. These search-driven Business Intelligence (BI) applications collect and synthesize both structured and unstructured data for the client and present it in a form which companies can then "understand at a glance." According to Nstein's LeMay, customers who utilize this enterprise search solution also have "complete control of their information" with Nstein providing support. Of course, this kind of comprehensive intelligence bears a hefty price tag. A quick glance at the IBM Web site lists the WebSphere II OmniFind Edition processor by itself at about $75,000 per CPU. Add to that Nstein's layers of BI search enablers and text analytics and you easily triple that figure.
Apart from coining the term consumer-generated media, Intelliseek also boasts a wide-ranging solution to the problem of corporate reputation monitoring. In fact, VNU's recent merger of Intelliseek with BuzzMetrics into the formidable Nielsen BuzzMetrics brand bodes well for combining old-school media analysis with up-to-the-minute data mining and text analytics. (Not incidentally, ACNielsen are the folks who gave us television ratings.) It will be interesting to see if this new model works similarly to Intelliseek's current solution. As Pete Blackshaw, both Intelliseek's and Nielsen BuzzMetrics' CMO, says, "I think the Nielsen network will bring additional data to the equation providing our reports and analysis with deeper and more contextual perspective. So, for example, we may have the luxury of overlaying TV media data on top of CGM data." Blackshaw goes on to explain that "most research or media analysis is conspicuously missing consumer opinion and so we're obviously filling that particular piece of the equation" with the merger.
Intelliseek's current Corporate Reputation Monitoring solution sets up an internal database or workbench with a client-specific project that scans thousands of different data feeds with keywords. It then collects that information, which is then fed through layers of text analytics and natural language processing technology, which allows them to make the Babel of CGM more intelligible. Cost for the solution depends on the needs of the client, but according to Blackshaw, it can be "close to six figures on an average basis but will sometimes be lower based on an early engagement where clients are trying to test the waters." He adds that "companies are plunging into this at a much more aggressive rate because I think there is a greater cost of not listening."
Indeed, the cost of not remaining on top of media buzz—both consumer-generated and mainstream—is high. That is why more and more companies are willing to put their money into proactive solutions that can monitor and analyze both. As Blackshaw says, "we're in this new era of advertising where you really can't look at offline media in isolation of consumer-generated media. Too many consumers are one click away from registering a reaction to the advertising. In some respects, the Internet is becoming the next Nielsen black box, it's just that the framework of the black box is not necessarily controlled by marketers. The folks who are authorized to stay on top of this stuff are having a hard time keeping up. Most companies don't realize the extent to which consumers are posting video, audio, and photos that relate to brand experience—a great deal of which is compromising information in the sense that it takes innocuous siloed customer satisfaction complaints and puts them on the public airwaves; hence, it then has an advertising effect."
Given the realities of the blog explosion and the shifting advertising and marketing paradigms, it seems that companies who put off monitoring reputation in both the mainstream and consumer-generated media not only do themselves a disservice but may well be downright irresponsible. As Blackshaw says, "message boards and blogs are, in some respects, recording devices of consumer opinion, and if you've got a good method for organizing and interpreting that information you can glean an enormous amount of insight." Clearly, in the realm of corporate reputation monitoring, the old cliché that knowledge is power holds more truth than ever.