Monday, December 10, 2007

Communications ROI is too expensive so why bother?

This video posits perhaps the most unusual answer to the question of how to you measure ROI on your communications efforts.

The question posed in this scripted-conversation video clip from Ragan is: "Can the ROI of Communications Be Measured?"

The answer that is returned seems to be "yes, but it's too expensive so why bother." It goes on to say that if you have a communicator who can express himself well to an executive, then the statistics, true or not, just don't matter.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Alexa, you coulda been someone

I've been looking at companies who provide Web tracking data for the purpose of understanding how many people are seeing a company's message as it spreads around the Web.

This post really rips poor Alexa, who I thought previously might be one of the good sources of this data.

Alexa was all the rage back during the dot-com boom but what have you heard about them since Amazon bought them? Not much. I'm sure they had great plans back when A9 the next big thing, but that seems like ages ago.

The comments to this post really outline well the main problem with Alexa data: faulty sampling methodology based on the sad fact that the adoption of their toolbar is probably quite small and in niche areas.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lost in Barcelona

Some of the members of the Factiva Insight management team proved on a recent trip to the Factiva Media Lab's office in Barcelona, Spain, that we can get lost just about anywhere. It's not a metaphor for our business. Really, it's not.

The trip was a great chance to sit down and discuss the state of our business with the multilingual team of Dow Jones media analysts who call this great city their home.

Photo credit: John Costanzo, staff photographer and technical lead.

Friday, November 09, 2007

How's your Bulgarian? Ours is great.

The business champion of Factiva Insight, Мартин Мъртланд -- er Martin Murtland, was recently interviewwed by the Sofia Echo while on a trip to Bulgaria. They talked about how Dow Jones is making use of the local software development talent in our offices there. If you read Bulgarian, have at it here: Компании & Финанси | Мартин Мъртланд: Водим прего�

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Heineken – unlucky, clumsy, ill advised or a clever marketing ploy…

Heineken received significant coverage around the Rugby World Cup last week as 25% of all articles that mentioned a partners, sponsors or official suppliers mentioning the company at least once.

The company was struggling to navigate the sport's sponsorship rules, getting publicity in ways they might not have intended.

How'd I know? Do I know anything about Rugby? Hardly.

This came from the attached Factiva Insight media analysis of the sponsors of the sport's championship.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Blog Hype is Over and Blogs as Core Tool Continue

I received an email survey today about the state of corporate blogging. (It was a bit more interesting for me because it is commissioned by one of our competitors.)

The hypotheses behind the survey seems to be that the hype around blogs has died down and now it's time for corporations to see them as part of their core communication strategy.

Questions also focused on what's next for corporations to follow in the world of social monitoring: online communities? second life? video blogs?

Facebook Becoming a Platform for Consumer Discontent

I have to give props to eagle-eyed Down Under colleague Lorraine Worley on this one. But it's a great example of new media impacting a corporation so I have to share.

Recently some students in England successfully used Facebook to take on HSBC, focusing their anger on a specific action taken by the banking giant -- its reversal of a decision to do away with interest-free overdrafts for recent college graduates.

Using Facebook's "groups" tool more than 6,000 students threatened a boycott, which seemed to work, because HSBC just decided to change course in their favor. The bank says it now wont be chargning studetns for overdrafts and would be refunding recent interest charges.

This is another great example of social networking sites being used to focus protests on niche decisions. This feels conceptually related to the concept of micro-trends.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

We're done. Everyone who could possibly grasp it, now knows what a blog is.

It would seem that 80% of Americans now know what blogs are, according to WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association), siting recent research from Marketing Daily and Synovate. Which, apparently, is the same percentage of Americans who can find the United States on a map, according to Aimee Teegarden.

I think this is not likely a coincidence but rather clearly means blogs have the largest mindshare possible. What chance do we have to reach that last 20%.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

“Enhanced Speed Reading”

A colleague of mine, Lou Paglia, has a post about a genre of text mining / text analytics tools. I think of them as personal text mining applications. Greg Merkle calls them "enhanced speed reading" tools. These are things like Concept Q Pro, Concorder Pro and DEVONagent. I haven't tried any of them yet but will have to put that on my list.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Social Media analysis space dissected

I was told by a colleague about this very comprehensive summary of the Social Media analysis space, which was recently released by Apex, N.C.-based Social Target LLC. The company is run by Nathan Gilliatt who has a blog over at

Dow Jones (vis a vis Factiva Insight) is covered along with 30 other companies. The report (which isn't free, btw) provides analysis of the social media space, comparing and contrasting them. Here's the list of companies included:

Collective Intellect
CoreX Technologies
Digital Influence Group
Dow Jones (Factiva)
Market Sentinel
Millward Brown Precis
NetMap Analytics
New Media Strategies
Nielsen BuzzMetrics
TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony
Visible Technologies
Waggener Edstrom

This gives a good sense of how active this sector is. There's a lot of interest among large companies to measure their footprint on the Web and this list shows there is no shortage of companies stepping up to the plate. Many of them are very small (and therefore out of necessity, specialized) though, and only a few offer comprehensive features and even a smaller number offer comprehensive content to go with them.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Some data visualization approaches worth considering

From the silly to the practical, this is a nice compilation of some contemporary approaches to visualizing data. As data become more and more part of our lives, there are more people thinking about ways to make easier use of it all. A very exciting trend. However, only the approaches that improve the human interaction with data -- not get in the way of it -- will survive. Many of these seem more complicated than useful, but there are a few nice ones. This nice demonstration of "elastic lists" caught my eye.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tracking the Influence - the Conversation Index

Some chatter starting up about a recent Dow Jones white paper about tracking influence in the blogosphere.

And here's Jeremiah's post on it.

Friday, August 03, 2007

IABC -- Habitat for Humanity Build

My worlds colliding a bit here.

I'm passionate about Habitat for Humanity and certainly about business communications (not going to say which one is more important to me) and this is the first time I can post about both at the same time.

I recently attended the International Association of Business Communicators conference in New Orleans, where I was talking about Factiva's / Dow Jones's (um, News Corp.'s) media measurement products to a host of internal and external marketing professionals. I think it was wonderful that IABC didn't pull out of New Orleans like many other conferences reportedly have in the wake of the Katrina disaster. That city needs our tourism dollars now more than ever.

I also was pleasantly surprised to find that IABC had decided to team up with Wells Fargo to support Habitat for Humanity's post-Katrina projects. Too bad the Habitat trip for the conference attendees was filled so I couldn't lend a hand, but it was great that so many people were participating.

You can check out the video of IABC2007 sweating and building in the hot sun of the Big Easy.

(Habitat fans: Check out my New Jersey affilaite's blog and home page.)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Who's most ga-ga over the pending iphone?

A quick text mine of "iphone" in the mainstream media for the past 90 days shows that

-- the Seattle Times has written about it more than any other U.S. newspaper
-- pre-launch coverage in newspapers has been greater in "business-focused" publications (The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, The New York Times) than in "local" newspapers
-- USA Today has lagged behind other national newspapers in covering iphone
-- Investors Business Daily has mentioned iphone in 65% more articles than The Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Editorial Integrity Questions - Redux

Journalists, politicians and others concerned about the quality of the newspaper, which is regarded as one of the best in the world, are expressing fears that it ... will change editorially if they are added to Mr. Murdoch's substantial international press empire.

A quote from another article this week about Rupert Murdoch trying to buy The Wall Street Journal?
Nope, that was from The New York Times on Jan. 21, 1981, right before Mr. Murdoch purchased the august Times of London.

Brand Monitoring Leaders Taken to Task

A post from Alan Wilensky, What's Wrong with the Brand Monitoring Leaders?, gives a compelling and sobering critique of how the brand monitoring leaders are failing to deliver accuracy (and therefore value) specifically around the area of automated sentiment analysis because they rushed to market products that seemed to work on the surface, but that do not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

Monday, May 21, 2007

'New Media' Makes a bit of a Comebank

Mining the term "new media" from The Wall Street Journal over the past seven years shows that it was mentioned more frequently in 2006 than at any point since the end of the dotcom era. Note the decrease in the term "dotcom" over the same period.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Information Professionals in the Text Mine

An article from the May/June 2007 issue of Information Today: Information Professionals in the Text Mine, seemed promising at first, but ended up being a bit too basic as it gives an overview text mining for business information purposes.

There is nothing new here. The lede: "With access to more information freely available, and with the help of Google and other search engines, patrons have become 'information consumers' with very high expectations...", sounds like it was written a couple of years ago. Is there nothing new to say about text mining than: It helps with information overload?

Why not talk about all the ways it is being used successfully today: media monitoring, media measuring, benchmarking, reputation managing, measuring PR efforts, etc.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Reuters AlertNet a Strong Example of Text Mining for Current Awareness Monitoring

Here's a great example of a news agency which built a Web widget and is using text mining to tell a story about a bigger picture. .
This is Reuters AlertNet's World Press Tracker. It uses Factiva's press archive. Factiva is now wholely owned by Dow Jones. This project dates back to when Factiva was half-owned by Reuters.
Here's what they're doing:

Our system analyses relevant articles from these [Factiva's 10,000 press] sources and decides whether they are about any of the 80 or so global emergencies AlertNet tracks at a given time. Emergencies are ranked according to the number of press mentions they get.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Blog Mentions in the Mainstream Media

How fast is the buzz around "blogs" growing in the mainstream media? Here's a look at that.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Numbers that Color Our World: Red Cars

A bit of a silly stat, but according to a quick Factiva Insight inquiry, the color "red" occurs in proximity to "cars" more than does "green" and "blue". Hey, I could work for the USA Today.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I just returned from Sofia, Bulgaria, and what was my first trip to Eastern Europe, so I was not quite sure what to expect.

First It goes without saying that our team of developers there is incredibly talented and dedicated. They are passionate about the work and were a pleasure to meet with. I'm grateful for the hospitality they showed me.

I was eager to taste the cuisine of Bulgaria -- though people struggled to name many dishes that are truly Bulgarian (and not, say, Turkish) other than various dishes and drinks featuring yoghurt , which I found was first discovered by the ancient Bulgars in the region. I especially enjoyed a dessert made with yoghurt, honey and walnuts.

From what I can tell the city is an interesting mix of Old World Communism attitudes and architecture and New World capitalism. It seems to be going through growing pains and trying to find its way, which it undoubtably will. There are a lot of abandonned Communist-style concrete factories and office building everywhere and new apartment buildings being built in between the ruins.

Western High-Tech is taking advantage of the skilled local workforce, with HP and Microsoft among others setting up shop recently. A gleaming new terminal at Sofia's small but substantial airport welcomes you. It's very new. Lots of stores aren't open yet.

The U.S. State Department has recently finished a new embassy in Sofia near our office - built in the new style -- set back from the road, surrounded by steel, very few windows and no doubt lots of technology. The hole dug for the foundation I'm was told was massive.

The Dow Jones office is in a small flat in an unmarked appartment building (no company name anywhere "for security reasons").

The Rule of Law is seems to an outsider somewhat arbitrary. People seem to drive and park however they wish. If you want to prevent people from parking on your sidewalk in Sofia you apparently put up steel pilons. Walking to the office was a bit of an obstacle course around parked and moving cars. And there is a bit of a laid back attitude. I was amused and scared by one of our cab drivers who was watching his TV mounted next to his steering wheel as he was driving.

Heads of companies are routinely killed in the street by precision rifle shots, I hear, because they run up debt and can't pay. This is backed up by the CIA World FactBook which states "corruption in the public administration, a weak judiciary, and the presence of organized crime remain" are the biggest economic chllenges for Bulgaria.

I'm sorry I couldn't stay longer to see the countryside. I'm told the mountains and the sea are beautiful. Ah, a reason to return.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Clare Hart describes how the Dow Jones brands fit together

Robert Scoble sat down with Clare Hart, former CEO of Factiva and current EVP of the Enterprise Media Group at Dow Jones (my employer). It's a basic "so what does Dow Jones do?" kind of interview (with a minimalist Podtech office setting), but Clare does her usual great job of summing up our essence.

Scoble seemed pleased with having a chance to interview a thought leader like Clare, but his starting the interview with his trademark "So, who are you?" is always a bit jarring.

Other posts on it from Jeremiah and Daniella.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hillary gets more mentions than Anna Nicole - barely

Do you think Hillary Clinton's people see it as a victory that they edged out Anna Nicole Smith or a defeat that they just barely edged her out?

I just don't get tired of fun with text mining.
(Note: This is a continuing feature of Factiva Insight's text mining results being run in The Wall Street Journal.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Spell Checking the Media

This is another example of a fun use of text mining -- run by The Wall Street Journal sourced from Factiva Insight

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Another Measurement Metric

Biz360 just added another metric to its offering -- this one promises to measure media influence in the social media space. B360 has such a index for mainstream media already. Others, such as Delahaye, offer such a measurement too.

We've heard praise and criticism for this concept of "magic numbers" -- indices that fold together various quantitative and qualitative measurements (reach, influence, tone, etc.) into one number. The idea is that brand managers and others can more easily track the rise and fall of their brand's image by monitoring a single metric. I'm a bit dubious of the value of such a number, but people seem to gravitate to the simplicity of them.

Of course such numbers don't "mean" anything in an of themselves just like the Dow Jones Industrial Average has no meaning by itself. It's just a number -- but I suppose a very powerful one because it allows comparison of a concept over time.

But what many people don't think about is the fine-grain tuning that goes into these numbers behind the scenes. Are media magic numbers valuable if you don't know what goes into them? After all Dow 10,000 is not the sum of the value of a single share of each of the 30 stocks in the index. It is that sum divided by a something like 0.13500289 (known as the Dow Divisor). This number is changed from time to time to allow for continuity of the value of the index as the stocks in it change or are split, etc.

Why do people trust the Dow? it is because the number's been around for more than 100 years? Or because it's from Dow Jones? I don't think because people understand what the number itself means.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What have you done for me lately: Measuring Marketing’s Unmeasurables

Fellow Dow Joneser Matt Toll emceed a session at Frost and Sullivan’s Sales and Marketing conference yesterday in sunny AZ. From what I hear the session was well received. Jeremiah, naturally, put together a nice summary post.

Question for Matt: Is this stuff really unmeasurable, or have we not yet found the best way to measure it?

I'm eager to hear more details about the event.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Thomson Business Intelligence Dismantling

Major changes in one of the old-guard in the business news and information sector:

Thomson Business Intelligence Dismantling:

"Although the announcement from TBI that went out to clients stated that the current divestiture of product lines represented a decision to 'realign specific services within Business Intelligence Services' in order to 'best align our products and resources to the markets and customers we serve,' in fact, Paul Stutler, vice president and general manager of TBI, clarified that, when completed, the transition would mean the end of TBI."

In the wake of Web 1.0 and now Web 2.0, the old research companies (Nexis, Dialog, Dow Jones, Reuters) had to embrace the future or die. Unfortunately, not enough investment was put into Thomson to keep it relevant in this always changing market.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Chinese Bloggers Posing Real Threat to Western Companies

An interesting article in The Wall Street Journal (subscription) on Friday ("It's Called the Forbidden City for a Reason," by Geoffrey A. Fowler) about how bloggers in China have been pressuring Starbucks and some other Western companies to be more culturally sensitive as they enthusiastically try to capture market share in the burgeoning Chinese economy. The article focuses on a Starbucks located in the Forbidden City in Beijing. One blogger -- Rui Chenggang -- took his distaste for the Western coffee shop's location near such a sacred area to his blog. In a week, the Journal reports, the post was viewed more than 500,000 times.

Chinese it seems are much more comfortable taking their feelings to the blogosphere than other methods we might be more comfortable with in the West -- such as complaining about the government in the press.

This means Western companies (the article mentions Yum Brands' KFC, Dell and Procter & Gamble also being attacked by bloggers in China recently) now have to become acutely aware of how their brand can be criticized in the burgeoning social media space.

Full disclosure: The Journal is owned by Dow Jones, the company for which I also work.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Social Media Site HR Departments Will Hate

HR departments take note. Here's a fairly new site -- JobVent -- that could really take off. It encourages employees to post anonymously about whether they love or hate their employer and state the reasons why. This is the type of site that companies are going to have to keep their eyes on as reputation issues could certainly snowball as employees feel they can vent without repercussions. This is a reminder that a company's stakeholders includes its employees.

Not that this is an entirely new concept. F'd Company has been around for a while but that site certainly encourages only negative comments, while JobVent encourages positive and negative comments.

Found on: The Net-Savvy Executive

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Top Cliches of 2006 - from Factiva Insight

The Wall Street Journal ran what's become known around here as the "Factiva Cliche Index" today. (And lest you're wondering, just because Dow Jones now fully owns both brands doesn't mean we Factiva folk can walk right over to the editors and say "run this." Not that it hurts to be in the same building, or anything.)
Bottom line, this is a great example of text mining put to use to give information that single searches can't do. Clichés might be a fun example, but look for more hard-hitting ones coming soon.