January 2008 Archives

Jodange mines sentiment for investors

Count on DEMO to include new companies to put on the radar. Jodange is a startup text analytics company focusing on mining financial documents and expert sources and understanding the relationship between sentiment and market prices. Of course, we already know the ROI of good predictions in financial markets.

Top of Mind is the company's service for analyzing "hundreds of thousands of documents tracking the Fortune 1000 and S&P 500, including everything from annual financial reports to transcripts of quarterly calls, CEO presentations, analyst reports and financial blogs."

The overlay charts with both sentiment and price trends suggest that Top of Mind will be useful in identifying which sources actually correlate to price moves. In the financial context, that's a pretty good definition of influence—correlation is as good as causation if it's consistent.

Jodange competes indirectly with Collective Intellect and Monitor110, but their approach is different. Jodange is focused on sentiment in carefully selected sources, while the others are looking for facts not widely known. I assume some interesting A/B tests will take place to determine the relative value of each approach; I also assume the results of those test will be quite confidential.

Looking forward to the video from DEMO tomorrow. For now, the detail is on the web site and in the press release, although CTOs in the room may be interested in the research papers on their downloads page.

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links for 2008-01-29

links for 2008-01-25

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News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

New research and papers

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links for 2008-01-24

links for 2008-01-21

links for 2008-01-18

News from the companies of social media analysis.

Companies and services

  • RTGI launched a US affiliate, Linkfluence, to manage PresidentialWatch08 and potential business in North America. (via Matt Hurst)

  • Andy Beal (Marketing Pilgrim) announced Trackur, an online reputation management tool with data filtering, sorting, bookmarking and sharing features. A closed beta is planned for February, with launch expected in March.

  • CyberAlert announced the recipients of its grants to not-for-profit organizations for 2008. 29 organizations in the US, Canada, and UK will receive one free year of the company's online news monitoring service.

  • BuzzLogic moved to new office space, just down the street from their old offices.
People
  • Financial technology executive Brennan Carley joins Monitor110 as CEO, kicking off a round of executive musical chairs. Former President & COO Roger Ehrenberg moves to the Chairman seat vacated by founder Jeff Stewart, who remains on the board and continues his involvement with the company. press release

  • Radian6 CEO Marcel LeBrun launched a new blog, Media Philosopher. If you haven't seen bloggers of social media analysis since it was first posted, the list is noticeably longer now.
New research and papers
Events

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links for 2008-01-15

links for 2008-01-12

Unexpected search engine placement

I see the strangest things in my web analytics. Specifically, the search terms people use that lead them to my site. Obviously, I'm happy that terms like "social media research" bring them here, since that's related to what I'm doing. But sometimes I wonder what people are thinking. It can be pretty clear that they're looking for something other than what they find here. The weird part is discovering how highly ranked my posts are for these unusual searches. Recent examples of search terms that led people here, the pages they lead to, and where the page ranks for the term: Up next: 10 easy ways to incriminate yourself with Google searches.

links for 2008-01-11

News from the companies of social media analysis. Awfully quiet out there...

Companies and services

  • Umbria is presenting a free webinar, "The Blogosphere: Greenfield or Minefield," on 30 January at 1:00 PM EST (GMT -5). The presentation focuses on sustainability issues and how some brands succeed or fail online with their sustainability messages.

Just for fun: Phil Gomes posted a visual that belongs on your bulletin board.

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Vinnie Mirchandani wrote about the new Analyst Transparency Workgroup, a gathering of big industry analyst firms to talk about how users can "access their favorite analysts across all paper, proprietary and RSS feed platforms and can seamlessly compare and collate their views on technology subjects and tags." Vinnie wants to know when they're going to be more open to the rest of the world; I'm wondering whether there's any progress toward delivering their content via RSS to their paying clients.

Vinnie's post really focuses on the lack of blogging at most analyst firms. They're in the business of selling what they write, so it's not hard to understand, but look at how visible Forrester has become in social media, largely because of their blogging analysts.

Putting up 1–2% of your research will not kill your business model. In fact it will increase traffic. And acknowledging your competition, a trade pub, a blogger will not kill your business model either. Should actually make your user experience richer.
Which all makes sense to me. But when he mentioned "RSS feed platforms," I immediately flashed back to the Intelligence Delivery System™ I sketched out in mid-2006.

RSS as a delivery mechanism to clients
IDS was to be an RSS-based system for aggregating and redistributing market intelligence, including analyst research subscriptions, inside the corporate firewall. Existing access methods required logging into and searching each analyst firms's web site individually, which meant that many individuals with paid access to the research don't bother finding it. IDS would provide more efficient access to help companies extract more value from that research.

It turned out that existing enterprise RSS systems could do most of what I described, if clients could get their reseach in an RSS feed. So when I saw "RSS feed platforms" in Vinnie's post, I had to ask if the big analyst firms are making their content available to their clients in RSS feeds yet.

Barbara French answered:

The mechanisms for merging "competing" subscriptions include Northern Light and some other corporate content management systems. These solutions are not cheap, and none that I have found cover many firms.
Northern Light looks like an interesting service, in an environment where analyst reports are available only through their web sites. But it strikes me as a workaround.

RSS coming soon?
The availability of RSS feeds would free client companies to incorporate the research into their own systems, potentially making the research more available—and thus more valuable—to their users. Is this part of what the new Analyst Transparency Workgroup means when they talk about access via RSS feed platforms?

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links for 2008-01-10

Picking on the A List

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I think there's a new meme going around. I haven't found the announcement, but it has something to do with picking fights with A-list bloggers. I don't think it's going to spread, though—the participants keep forgetting to tag someone new to spread the meme.

Stowe Boyd vs. Steve Rubel

Steve, on the other hand, suggests that he, and a short list of those bloggers he thinks are worth reading, can turn the tide. The rest of us are just a bunch of lazy bastards, too busy twittering and echo-chambering to do anything meaningful.
Jake McKee vs. Dave Taylor and B.L. Ochman (tag team)
I fear that success (and thus celebrity or quasi-celebrity) breeds fear and/or protectionism. If you’re supposed to be an expert in a subject and people are disagreeing with you, there may be a fear that your expert status is being put at risk.
Heather Hamilton vs. Robert Scoble
The whole tech blogging with insanely heavy doses of ego doesn't appeal to me. I've met him a couple times and he seemed nice enough but that doesn't come through in the me-me-me blogging style he invokes... It's hard to read his opinion on things because it seems clouded by self interest.
(Points to Scoble for commenting on the post that criticizes him.)

Up next: baiting celebrities to get unattractive photos of them.

Prediction season

The end of one year, the start of another. It's time for everyone with an opinion to (a) summarize 2007 or (b) predict 2008. My summary so far: I'm surprised so few social media analysis companies have jumped in with their own Year in Review posts.

Reporting 2007

Predicting 2008

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Free time in Boston

I'm on my way to Boston for a Tuesday morning meeting, and I'm going to have some free time Monday and Tuesday afternoons. If you'd like to meet up, call or email me.

Let's play a round of John Moore's Would you miss... game. Unfortunately, this one's not hypothetical. Clothing retailer Talbots (NYSE: TLB) announced today that they're closing their Kids and Mens stores. They've looked at the numbers and talked with the financial analysts. I wonder if they asked customers? My family, for one, is going to miss them when they're gone.

Talbots Mens was an interesting idea that I wanted to like, and it's convenient to browse while my wife is in the women's store. I like some of the clothing, but too often, it worked better on the hanger than on me. So I'll miss the Men's store, but not that much.

Talbots Kids, though, is a real loss. They've been a consistent supplier since before my son could sit up—those sweats were so *cute* (and comfy)! Now he's just about to move from the little boys to the boys section, and we're not ready to give up our best source.

It's easy to summarize why we like TK's clothing:

  • It's attractive. Cute on the little kids, appropriately good-looking in the larger sizes. Makes me want them in the big sizes.

  • It's comfortable. Makes him that much more huggable—not that he needs any help. :-)

  • It's durable. Especially when he was a baby, everything looked and felt almost new when he outgrew it.

  • It's well-made, or so it seems to me.
Are there other kids' clothing stores? Sure. But Talbots Kids has been a reliable place to find the clothing we need and styles we like. Department stores are just too much effort, and the other kids stores don't match our tastes consistently.

I don't know if Talbots management looked up from their spreadsheets to talk with customers, but I wish they would. They can close the Mens store without affecting me, but if they close Kids, we won't be in the adjacent women's store so much, either. And we're going to have a tougher task at back-to-school time.

The stock market didn't like the announcement, either. Want to reconsider?

(Photo from Talbots.com.)

Update: I sent a note mentioning this post to Talbots PR. I got a personal note back from a Senior Manager in Corporate Customer Service, incorporating some approved language about the closures but avoiding the feel of a form letter. It doesn't change anything, but give 'em credit for responding to me personally.

Meanwhile, the first box of clothing in the next two sizes showed up today.

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links for 2008-01-04

Who chooses the news?

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In the last few days, I've read two interesting articles about news and its audience. In very different ways, the articles look at how traditional media favor the predictable stories. Today, as I watched the Scoble/Facebook/Plaxo mini-maelstrom spin up before turning into an interesting discussion of privacy / data portability / contracts (pick a theme, any theme), I thought about what becomes the lead story online. Celebrity scandal, it seems, sells online, too.

No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
- Henry Mencken

John Hockenberry confirms low opinions of network television news in the January/February issue of Technology Review. Among the many indictments, he describes the network's fixation on a chosen narrative and stories that provoke an emotional response. If it bleeds, it leads, unless it contradicts the approved story line. It's interesting to consider the same mindset planning local TV stations' murder-and-mayhem hour (aka the 11 o'clock news).

They misunderestimated me.
- George W. Bush

Moving from screen to print, Michael Hirschorn dissected front page story selection in the December issue of The Atlantic. Comparing most-emailed lists from major newspapers to their front pages, he discovered that readers' interests are not framed by the media-driven narrative:

The most-e-mailed lists… were a rich stew of global affairs, provocative insight, hot-button issues, pop culture, compelling narrative, and enlightened localism. In short, they were interesting.

So, basically, quality writing captures people's interest. Shocking. Hirschorn sees newspaper readers choosing interesting stories over important stories, but in combination with Hockenberry's stories, I wonder if that's a reaction to the drumbeat of the narrative.

The notion of a user-selected front page is an interesting thought, but we know from Digg and Techmeme that the democratized approach has its own issues. Imagine the fun if "optimizers" found a way to game the front page of the New York Times...

No, I'd rather see editors and producers get serious with the journalism stuff. Compete with YouTube on the celebrity noise if you must, but remember the audience that is attracted to quality content and that will share what it finds interesting.

Social media headlines
So, anyway, I'm indulging my Twitter habit today, and suddenly everyone in the bubble is talking about Scoble and his little tiff with Facebook. Eventually, everyone blogged their opinions, and it took over Techmeme. The Wall Street Journal has $100 oil; we get a screen-scraping scandal.

Once the story hit the blogs, it got picked up by the memetrackers, but if you really wanted to keep up, you had to follow Twitter—a huge time sink, and impossible to read it all. What if someone were to build a memetracker that summarized Twitter discussions in near-real time? Not just stats, popularity or visualization, but an actual summary? Then everyone could be in on the 30-second news cycle that is the social media echosphere.

Yeah, I know, it has all sorts of challenges. If it were easy, I'd do it myself.

Update: Enter Tweetmeme. Will this do the trick?

links for 2008-01-03

About Nathan Gilliatt

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  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Studying complexity and futures.
  • Principal, Social Target

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