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Social Media: Tracking A Million Conversations

Social media allows anyone to say anything they want and have it broadcast across the globe. Most of the time our conversations simmer in obscurity and then drift off into the nothingness of digital archives. But some ideas boil over. Perhaps United Airlines broke your guitar or you had an idea about Chad Vader, Darth's younger brother. When such thoughts propagate and capture the attention of millions of people, they change perceptions. From a business point of view, these opinions and ideas can become the equivalent of marketing campaigns that would cost millions of dollars.

Marketing and media relations professionals are now tasked with tracking millions of conversations, keeping an eye on which ideas are growing in influence, and then determining how to respond. But social media is not just about media anymore. The way the customer service is delivered, the way sales and hiring prospects are evaluated, and the techniques for product development are all being transformed.

For example, it is common for someone who complains about a product on Twitter to then be contacted by the company that makes the product. Will customer service in the future start with a tweet because consumers expect companies to be listening? Sales staff now routinely evaluate prospects on LinkedIn. But how can all the other relevant evidence in hundreds of social media sources be found efficiently?

The first wave of experimentation with social media in business took place by brute force, using search technology to find conversations of interest and then to get involved. The vast number of sources and the mind-blowing volume of activity means that some sort of automated monitoring system is required. Here, we take a look at the technology involved in tracking social media and the different monitoring strategies they enable.

The systems we are about to describe work in two ways: The most common is based on some sort of guidance. You tell the system something about the conversations that are important to you, then receive a summary of related conversations. Most systems also allow you to ask, "What are the most active topics in social media right now?" and then get some summary. In both cases, you can then drill down and explore the connections between categories of conversations.

Radian6 leads the pack as an aggregator of many different technology approaches, including various kinds of search and some text analytics that can be applied to a wide variety of business processes. Marcel LeBrun, CEO of Radian6, describes his company's software as a listening and engagement platform through which you can track conversations, get social media profiles of who is talking--"caller ID for the Internet," LeBrun says--and most importantly, measure how rapidly attention is growing.

An extremely negative post that is not generating responses may be less worrisome than a mildly negative one that has 100 comments in the last hour. Radian6 comes with workflow and integration with the usual suspects for CRM, ERP and content management so that important conversations can be channeled through a process for responding.

InsideView uses an aggregation of open source and proprietary technology for search and natural language processing to track social media related to the sales process. Social media is added to other online sources for news and financial information so the software can automatically recognize important events.

The results are then delivered through InsideView's dashboard or through integrations into existing CRM and ERP software. The software enables a sales person who is evaluating which leads to pursue, to make better decisions by seeing more information on the background and context of the company. "Knowing who is tweeting about their computer crashing is like a goldmine of insight for a rep selling cloud-based storage," says InsideView CEO Umberto Milletti.

The most established technology related to tracking social media comes from Autonomy's Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) platform, which has been scanning the Internet using techniques based on patterns and probability for more than a decade. IDOL is able to read millions of documents, understand what they say and then sort them into clusters. Positive and negative sentiments can be identified, as well as clusters that are growing or shrinking.

Thousands of companies use IDOL directly or when it is embedded in other products. For example, a company called VMS has recently extended its use of IDOL beyond its competitive analysis and news monitoring business into social media. Mike Lynch, Autonomy's CEO, points out that the IDOL platform does not rely on a model of content that must be maintained. Instead, a map of the meanings of what is being talked about is created and automatically updated as new content arrives.

NetBase is a new general-purpose linguistic search platform based on the idea of reading sentences and parsing their deeper meanings. This is a different approach from the statistical approach that Autonomy takes, which can be pointed at any text, regardless of language. NetBase, in a way, must learn to speak each language. Jonathan Spier, CEO of NetBase puts it this way, "Statistical approaches can get you to a document but not to a sentence."

These are early days for technology that tracks and makes use of social media. Each of these technologies and approaches do something right. The big-picture value comes from putting a technique to use in the context of a business. The question is: How can a deeper understanding of social media trends and content help us do our jobs better? Patterns are emerging and processes are changing, but that is a topic for another day.

Dan Woods is chief technology officer and editor of Evolved Technologist.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: Forbes.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4915

Cablevision to Be First US Cable Company With Interactive Ads

Cablevision Systems Corp. will start showing interactive advertising to about 3 million digital-television customers next month, becoming the first U.S. cable operator to introduce the ads.

The company has signed on at least six national advertisers to participate in the project, said Jim Maiella, a spokesman for the Bethpage, New York-based company. Cablevision customers will be able to use their remote control to click on an ad and get a coupon or free sample of the product by mail, he said. The feature won’t interrupt programming.

The cable industry aims to use interactive commercials to squeeze more money from a slumping ad market. The six largest cable companies, including Cablevision, created Canoe Ventures last year in a bid to introduce the ads nationally. The effort has been hampered by the technological limitations of older set- top boxes and privacy concerns, causing Canoe to suspend trials of its first product in June.

Cablevision got a jump on the rest of the industry in March, when it said it had begun testing of a new targeting technology. It can route ads to specific households based on demographic data, such as income, gender and ethnicity.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Benjamin Moore paint company is one of the first advertisers to sign on, Maiella said. When viewers see Benjamin Moore’s ad, they can push the select button on their remote control and get a free two-ounce color sample.

By the end of this year, Cablevision plans to expand the effort, letting customers click on an ad to see movie-like trailers for a product. By next year, customers will also have the ability to buy products via their television sets.

Cablevision rose 62 cents to $25.22 yesterday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has climbed 50 percent this year.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: bloomberg.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4767

Coke Pushes Value-Based Agency Compensation Model

Coca-Cola Co. is trying to start an industry-wide movement toward a "value-based" compensation model like one it's adopted that promises agencies nothing more than recouped costs if they don't perform -- but profit margins as high as 30% if their work hits top targets.

[Estimated timeframe:2009-2012]

Usually tight-lipped Coke disclosed its plans at the Association of National Advertisers Financial Management Conference in Phoenix on April 20, saying it wanted to nudge the industry into adopting value-based models as a standard practice. If it succeeds, agencies accustomed to being able to book profits long before they deliver work won't have that sort of certainty anymore.

"We want our agencies to earn their profitability, but it's not guaranteed," said Sarah Armstrong, Coke's director of worldwide media and communication operations, the driver behind the move for Coke, which spends some $3 billion a year on global advertising. "We need them to be profitable and healthy, but they have to earn it through performance."

Coke's shift from paying a flat fee based on hours worked began in five markets last year. The model is rolling out in at least 35 more this year and will encompass all of the company's ad- and media-agency relationships by 2011. The concept of value-based models has been a hot topic in the industry for at least a decade, but few marketers have attempted to apply it. (Procter & Gamble is perhaps the furthest along but uses it on only 12 of its brands.)

Ms. Armstrong took pains to note that the process involved considerable give and take with agencies that were briefed on Coke's plans and were given opportunities to voice concerns. "There were some pointed questions," she said. "But our agencies read the trades, and they know what P&G did. They knew at some point someone would take this path; they just didn't know it would be us."

Put into action
Coke's agencies include some of the most creative in the media and agency worlds, including Wieden & Kennedy, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Starcom MediaVest Group and Mother, among dozens of others. Some agency executives, speaking privately, said they couldn't argue with the theory behind the shift, but had concerns about how it might work in practice.

"Look, if you're talking about getting paid more because you're adding value to a project, I think that's terrific," said a senior executive at one Coke agency that has yet to switch to the new model. "The tricky part is how you define value."

Traditionally, defining the value of an assignment has been the job of the agency, which tells its client how many people and how much time it'll need to accomplish a given project. Under its new model, Coke will determine the value of assignments based on a range of factors including the work's strategic importance, the talent involved and whether other agencies could duplicate the work -- if they could, it's worth less.

After those factors are used to set the value of a project, the agency's performance and the business results that follow determine what, if anything, the agency deserves to be paid beyond its upfront costs (which, in practice, are sometimes inflated). If all targets are hit, the agency could make as much as 30% on a project; if all targets are missed, the agency won't make any profit at all.

Supporters of the approach acknowledge that it's not a perfect approach to measure the value agencies add, but they call it a massive improvement over a status quo that equates hours spent with value delivered. "I'd rather be approximately right than precisely wrong," said Tim Williams, founder of the agency-compensation consultancy Ignition.

Effort vs. value
Other major marketers present perked up at Ms. Armstrong's presentation. "It got my juices flowing," said Keith Levy, VP-marketing at Anheuser-Busch, which slashed agency fees earlier this year. "We agree with Coke that [agency] effort doesn't necessarily equal value ... but it also shows you how much time and effort it takes to get there."

Though the shift comes amid a brutal economic downturn that has prompted many marketers to slash agency fees to save money, Ms. Armstrong said cost savings had little to do with Coke's move to a new compensation model. It's "ironic," she said, but the shift began in 2006. She declined to comment on whether Coke saw any savings in the five test markets -- Australia, China, Germany, the U.K. and the Philippines -- in which it deployed the new model last year.

However, cost reductions have been a priority at the company of late. Last summer, CEO Muhtar Kent said Coke would look to save between $400 million and $500 million a year by the end of 2011. Marketing was said to be a primary focus. The company also has been looking to optimize its use of agencies, slashing its global roster by more than half in the past 18 months. Despite that, Coke spent $3 billion on advertising globally last year, a $200 million increase from the previous year.

The new model, in theory, ought to better align the quality of Coke's advertising with the size of its budget, but the approach is not without its risks. Will Coke's agencies be willing to take the same creative risks if striking out means they'll see no profit for their trouble? "That has not been a concern," Ms. Armstrong said. "I have a fundamental belief that our agencies are competitive enough that they are going to bring their A-games no matter what."

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: AdAge.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=3932

US Radio Accountability Initiative Announced at RAB Conference

Ad-ID today announced the "Radio Accountability Initiative," which was endorsed by the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) at its RAB `09 conference. Harold S. Geller, senior vice president, cross-industry workflow, 4A's, and managing director, Ad-ID LLC, announced the initiative during a panel discussion entitled "Increasing Cash Flow and Decreasing Makegoods Through Digital Commercial Workflow." The Initiative will address accountability and distribution platforms that ensure the right commercials get on the right stations.

[Estimated timeframe:2009-onward]

In endorsing the Initiative, Jeff Haley, president-CEO, RAB, said "As radio aims to grow its share of ad dollars, proof of performance, improved commercial workflow and consumer interactivity are increasingly important at the station level. It is beneficial to make radio commercials as interactive as the purchase-enabled songs to which they are attached."

"Accountability in radio revolves around identification. If you can consistently identify a spot, the advertiser it's associated with, and centrally access other necessary information, you create an environment where accountability and transparency are core capabilities," added Harold S. Geller, managing director, Ad-ID LLC. "Each of the founding participants in this initiative plays a key role in radio workflow; together they can demonstrate the accountability of radio."

Initial initiative participants include: Allen Hartle, founder/CEO, Jump2Go; Dale Graham, president / CEO, ClearStreaming Inc.; Harold S. Geller, managing director, Ad-ID LLC; Joe Rivera, vp/director of operations, FirstSpin Inc.; Rick Rowland, president, PowerLink Software.

Additional vendors and station groups will join as this initiative launches. There will be no restrictions to participation other than supporting Ad-ID. If advertisers choose to code ads outside of Ad-ID, a station's own policy will govern how that ad is treated.

"The founding participants of the Radio Accountability Initiative can make radio more accountable with limited disruption to existing workflow," added Geller. "Obviously as more vendors come on board, and adopt Ad-ID and XMP, more capabilities will emerge."

About the Founding Partners

Ad-ID is the only advertising asset coding system supported and authorized by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) across all media. It is guaranteed to be globally unique and has more than 70 metadata fields, (including: advertiser, product, brand, ad title, medium, agency, and length / size). Ad-ID is a flexible metadata model that can integrate requirements of any media, and provides Web services that enable the easy retrieval of data by authorized users. There are currently over 700 advertisers, including 78 of the top 100 in the United States, signed up for Ad-ID. For this initiative, Ad-ID becomes the foundation of the digital workflow.

Adobe's Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) is a labeling technology that allows you to embed data about a file, known as metadata, into the file itself. With XMP, desktop applications and back-end automation systems gain a common method for capturing, sharing and leveraging this valuable metadata, thereby opening the door for more efficient job processing, workflow automation and rights management. In this initiative, XMP will be implemented to take the guesswork out of ad identification. Adobe has been approached to endorse this initiative.

FirstSpin's radio distribution platform ensures that commercial spots make it to the radio station, in time for air and with minimal manual intervention. Integration to Ad-ID's central database of information about ads reduces a step of rekeying, and ensures that vendors further down the workflow will have the necessary data. FirstSpin plans to use XMP to embed the Ad-ID in the file, which will further automate station commercial operations.

Jump2Go is designed to make radio commercials as interactive as the purchase-enabled songs to which they're attached, using the RDS layer of analog broadcast. Jump2Go will use Ad-ID to manage the identification of the ad; Jump2Go will also maintain a database of text that is associated with the Ad-ID based on the available output devices.

PowerLink Software's "Proof of Play" demonstrates the accountability of radio with definitive proof that commercials aired correctly. It can monitor ads before, during and after airplay via the Web. Combine Posting results and late copy change requests to the same screen and you have a one-stop shop for Ad buyers to be serviced with the latest technology! Power-Link's integration with Ad-ID, enables it to use standardized data to aggregate across stations and markets in real time.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: ANA.net
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=3919

Analytics: Marketers, Unlock the Possibilities Within Data

Fate has played a terrible joke on those thousands of people who entered the marketing and advertising profession to escape the rigors of math. That's because the digital revolution driving the crisis of centricity is all about data, math, analytics, chi squares and sigmas. Everyone in advertising and marketing must recognize that their creative output will be shaped by advanced analytics more than ever before.

[Estimated timeframe:Q3]

Everywhere throughout the marketing ecosystem, huge amounts of data are being collected. Powerful new software and hardware tools are assembling, filtering, comparing and modeling the data. Agent-based modeling used to be an artifact of military planning, replete with massive mainframes crunching through troop and weaponry capability to arrive at a prediction of battlefield outcomes. Now companies such as DecisionPower offer a software license to marketers who can input data of all kinds on consumers, competitors, retailers, ad copy and ad spending. From these inputs, the software will predict marketplace outcomes. Even better, the software lets you rapidly change inputs to create multiple scenarios. Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Nielsen and Dentsu license this software. Other companies have developed internal software or license other third-party approaches. Scenario planning has never been so fast, so easy and so reliable.

New approaches
Now a new capability, exception analytics, is exploding on the scene. An Israeli company, Verix, offers the opportunity to filter through masses of data to identify anomalous events that may indicate an emerging problem long before the human brain could become aware of the trend. This approach is the opposite of 1990 online analytical processing analytics, which required that one be aware of a problem before he analyzed it. This new approach identifies potential problems so that you may ascertain what´s going on. Managing data overload suddenly is turned into competitive advantage.

Another rapidly growing source of data ripe for analysis is the public conversation on the internet. Many companies offer analytical services targeted at these public conversations about products and services. Now new, second-generation analytics services such as those offered by Wise Window enable new and more insightful ways to understand the online conversation. These new approaches allow marketers to understand consumer attitudes with the intimacy of an in-depth interview and the panoramic perspective of multiple focus groups. And, because we are talking about responses from thousands of people, this "qualitative" data can suddenly take on the statistical validity of conventional survey data. It´s no wonder many seasoned marketing research professionals are forecasting the end of the command-and-control survey procedure that has informed the advertising and marketing decision process for the past 80 years.

The best example of how the new data and analytics advances can be practically applied was given at the 2008 ANA Annual Conference by Mercedes and its agency, Rapp. Mercedes wanted to sell a small number of their new "green" SUVs in the United States. A mass campaign for such a small number of available vehicles was out of the question, so they decided to use the new data and analytics to identify and persuade a target market perceived to be intensely attracted to and capable of affording this unique, expensive Mercedes. Rapp proceeded to mash up (cross-compare) lists of individuals with a demonstrated interest in all things green, a history of purchasing green products, the economic capability to pay for a Mercedes and known car-buying propensities. They combined dozens of databases covering a number of behaviors that suggested a propensity to buy a car like the new Mercedes, such as eco-friendly magazine subscriptions, cause-based organization memberships, website hits on green articles, TV-viewing habits and political contributions. Using the final list, the marketing team put together a creative strategy and a multi-component integrated campaign that quickly and profitably sold all the available SUVs.

What does this explosion of data and analytics mean for marketing as a discipline, for organization and for the creative process?

First, it means that a marketing-information strategy is much more important than it was 20 years ago. Every company must ask itself what new data are available and how to leverage them. What are the touch points at which a customer is open to persuasion?

Focusing lens
Second, companies must have a data-manipulation capability similar to what Rapp offered to Mercedes. For some companies, that capability may center on one expert able to rally all the internal and external assets and vendors. In other companies, the capability will be an entire department with a mix of proprietary databases and robust communication and response analytics.

Third, companies need to bridge the gap between the left-brained, math-oriented analysts capable of identifying an attractive target and the right-brained creatives able to translate functional goods and services into emotionally compelling offers. For their part, creatives need to see the analysts and their new tools not as a constrictive force limiting creative possibilities but as a focusing lens informing the creative function so that it becomes even more effective.

The explosion of digitally derived data and the sudden appearance of powerful tools to analyze that data have caused the crisis of centricity. Whether that crisis turns out to be a threat or an opportunity will depend on how marketing leadership responds to the possibilities locked in the data.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: AdAge.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4583

Quantcast Shakes Up Ad-Targeting Model - WSJ.com
Quantcast Shakes Up Ad-Targeting Model By JESSICA E. VASCELLARO In a test of the viability of small online-ad companies, Quantcast has launched a new online ad-targeting service that is being closely watched by advertisers and investors. Quantcast, a high-profile San Francisco start-up, is one of dozens of young companies helping broker targeted display ads -- which typically cont......

Quantcast Shakes Up Ad-Targeting Model


In a test of the viability of small online-ad companies, Quantcast has launched a new online ad-targeting service that is being closely watched by advertisers and investors.

Quantcast, a high-profile San Francisco start-up, is one of dozens of young companies helping broker targeted display ads -- which typically contain both text and images, and are aimed at audiences selected for such characteristics as age, income or even probable personality traits.

Some of these start-ups sell targeted ads directly on behalf of media companies and other Web publishers. Others -- like Quantcast -- provide data to help companies, such as General Electric's NBC Universal and Time-Warner´s Time Inc., sell targeted ads on their own.

Investors have poured millions of dollars into the fledgling businesses, hoping to discover the next Google or Yahoo that could change the way ads are sold online.

So far, few of the ad-targeting and data-brokering companies -- which also include AudienceScience and BlueKai -- have become big, or even profitable. And lawmakers and regulators have stepped up inquiries into whether the ways they collect and crunch data on Web users´ online behavior ought to be more tightly regulated to protect consumer privacy.

Quantcast, which has 65 employees, is attracting attention because it entered the ad-targeting business by the backdoor. In 2006, it started out by offering a free service that allowed Web publishers to track the types of people visiting their sites through software code it placed on the sites.

The service put Quantcast in competition with Nielsen and comScore, which track audiences based on the Web-surfing behaviors of panels of Internet users, among other methods.

Now Quantcast plans to translate the technology it has installed on more than 10 million Web sites into revenue. Its new media-buying service, known as Quantcast Media Program, begins by allowing advertisers to create a detailed profile of the types of people they want to reach. Then Quantcast finds Web sites using its measurement technology that are attracting those types of people. It takes a cut of the revenue from the resulting ads sold by the Web sites.

Independent online-media analyst Barry Parr says Quantcast´s model of giving away audience data, and charging only when an advertiser buys ads, is likely to appeal to advertisers more than other services that charge publishers upfront for their data.

Some Web sites question whether Quantcast sees enough online activity for its data to be valuable, noting that it still doesn´t measure some of the largest sites on the Web. But Quantcast Chief Executive Konrad Feldman says roughly all U.S. Internet users hit a site it tracks every month, and that the real strength of the service is that it allows advertisers to build a custom target audience on the fly.

So far, few advertisers have purchased ads through the new service, which was announced last week. Home Depot has bought some on weather-tracking service Weather Underground, according to Richard Lowden, vice president of sales at the weather Web site. However, companies including Kia Motors and Virgin America are using Quantcast data to define the types of consumers they want to target online.

Quantcast faces keen competition in the display-ad market, ranging from smaller companies such as Specific Media Inc. to larger players like Yahoo and Time Warner´s AOL.

David Zinman, Yahoo´s vice president and general manager for display advertising, says his company recently launched a new ad-targeting service that allows advertisers to show display ads to visitors who searched for certain search terms. "We have data that is only available to Yahoo, and are using it in a very specific and customized way" for advertisers, he says.

Still, some ad professionals are enthusiastic about Quantcast´s new service. "Yahoo can do many of the things that Quantcast can do, but they only see behavior on their own networks," says Jacki Kelley, president of North America for Universal McCann, a media agency owned by Interpublic Group. She says one of her clients is testing the Quantcast media-buying program.

Peter Naylor, senior vice president of digital media sales for NBC Universal, says he is more confident of Quantcast´s data than that of other ad-targeting companies because it has helped NBC run a "fine-tooth comb" through its own audience. NBC used Quantcast to track its Olympics Web sites last year, for instance, and found significant differences between visitors to the site´s gymnastics areas, compared with the equestrian ones.

As a result, NBC plans to roll out Quantcast´s media-buying program across its online properties. "It helps us find more of an advertiser´s target audience," Mr. Naylor says.

All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4377

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