Online Brand Monitoring: A survey of marketspace analytics vendors and why they fall short

From GE to Target, from IBM to Best Buy, companies of all stripes and sizes are struggling to quantify the effects of Web 2.0 on their companies. What are the blogs saying? Are they positive or negative? What’s happening on Second Life? Where are our customers congregating? Who are the influencers in the marketspace?
The result of this anxiety is a new booming business in “marketspace analytics”—companies that profess to track your brand over time and alert you to news (bad or good) in real time.
Given some of the new findings about buzz in the blogosphere (positive online buzz for cars and trucks doesn’t necessarily translate to volume sales) you have to ask, are they wasting their time?
My take on this is somewhat biased. I view all of these brand monitoring products as the online equivalent of the traditional press-clipping tracking function the PR companies used to cling to as a way to justify their existence.
That said, online brand building is a critical competence for today’s marketer. What matters is not online buzz which is a temporary spike in attention, but what that buzz does to your position in your online ecosystem.
Your competitive position in your ecosystem determines your destiny:
• How do you and your competitors compare in terms of return on marketing investments and relative share of the ecosystem?
• How are the leaders making money, and what is their approach in the ecosystem?
• What is the full potential of your business position in the ecosystem?
• How big is your marketspace—the size of the ecosystem you want to compete in?
• Which parts of the ecosystem are growing fastest?
• Where are you gaining or losing share in the ecosystem or sub-ecosystems you compete in?
• What capabilities are creating a competitive advantage for you in the ecosystem?
• Which capabilities need to be strengthened or acquired to help you compete in the ecosystem?
Because we couldn’t find anything to help us with these questions, we decided to build it ourselves. That’s how our Ecosystem Intelligence™ service came into existence:
(i) to help measure a company’s position in the ecosystem(s) it competes in, and
(ii) to help improve that position in the marketspace over time
Now let’s check out some of the competing brand monitoring vendors:
Biz360: provides customer opinion measurement from thousands of expert and consumer product review websites, shopping sites, blogs and message boards
Cymfony: rated highly by the tech analysts, they claim to “quantify your amount of coverage as well as get expert qualitative interpretation of how effectively your message is being picked up in traditional and social media.”
Skygrid: a search tool that sifts through hundreds of web and mainstream media to show you just one thing: whether the balance of the news on a public company is good or bad, and how the “mood” is changing.
BrandIntel: collects, processes and analyzes online consumer content and applies human analysis to the results in context.
Factiva: monitors your competitors, customers, and industry, with in-depth research and company financial data reports.
MotiveQuest: “sees” the “peaks of passion” in online conversations to understand customer motivations. Again, a combination of proprietary software and human analysts to explore what drives customer behavior.
Nielsen Buzzmetrics: measures consumer-generated media to help companies understand consumer needs, reactions and issues. They use a data-warehouse approach to index customer sentiment.
Scout Labs: allows users to track brands and reactions to those brands. In essence, the company helps companies make sense of positive and negative brand sentiment in blogs, user generated videos, and images.
Umbria: analyzes social media—including blogs, message boards, Usenet, and product review sites. Umbria also adds human insights to their data reports.
And there you have it, all variations on the press-clipping theme.
And unfortunately most companies (including the ones above) don’t get it.
It’s not about tracking buzz, it’s about starting a conversation.
Seth Godin gets it.

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