I have been interested in both the broad array of tools for Web monitoring and the emergence of practical semantic technology tools. NetBase addresses both of these interests, so I was very pleased to recently speak with Jonathan Spier, NetBase CEO, and their CMO, Lisa Joy Rosner. Jonathan said that NetBase now reads four languages: British, American, Canadian, and Austrailian. Having lived in three of these countries I can understand the need to treat them separately.
So I asked what it means to for the software to read a language. Jonathan showed me an excellent slide reproduced below. A traditional search tool such as Google treats all words the same. Traditional text analytics uses a dictionary for sentiment but still treats words in isolation so mistakes can be plentiful. NetBase understands grammar and picks the pivot words that determine the context for meaning.
NetBase was taught English by a team of computational linguistic PhDs. They have now created several targeted versions. One of these is ConsumerBase that looks at brands on the Web. It is described as an insight discovery tool that is used for “social media understanding”. It was co-developed with several of their Fortune 500 clients, including five of the top 10 CPG companies in the world, with the goal of making it accessible to the business user for market research.
ConsumerBase goes beyond simply monitoring for mentions to providing a software generated understanding of what is being said. With monitoring tools you need to know what you are looking for. A tool like ConsumerBase allows you to discover things you did not know to look for about your brand or other content of interest. It reads over 50,000 sentences a minute, 10 billion documents a month, along with 400,000 social media feeds.
We first looked at what was being said about the Wii from Nintendo. Below you can see as screen providing the likes and dislikes connected with the Wii. You can also see sound bytes. Drilling down on any of the items in either tag cloud will allow you to go deeper into the content. These results were generated in a few seconds while we talked. It does not use pre-categorization but does the categories on the fly to help you find the unanticipated. It can look at the same word from a positive or negative sense as it understands the context. For example, the Wii is connected with the term injury in both positive and negatives ways. It can be seen as a way to help recovery from injuries (e.g. regaining balance after traumatic brain injury) and it can be seen as a source of injury (repetitive strain injury).
In the screen below you can see a pie chart of the top likes around a product. In this case, it is Listerne. The text is small to see in this image but the pies in the chart are labeled with the green area representing the 51% who like it because it kills germs and smallest slice in blue mentions the 4% who feel it can be a mosquito repellent. I will have to try this.
You also break the results into other categories such as emotions and actions and then have positive and negatives within these categroies. In the example below we see the mixed emotions and behaviors connected with the Prius. There seems to be strong love and hate around this product and these are the top two emotions. Likewise buy and not buy are the top two actions discovered.
I like the flexibility in data visualizations. ConsumerBase also takes out potentially irrelevant data. For example, if you type Comcast into Google you get a lot of returns connected with the word love. It turns out that much of this is from the presence of Randy Love a Comcast employee who blogs a lot. ConsumerBase will recognize this as potentially irrelevant and not include it.
To help with analysis they have developed a Brand Passion Index that measures the intensity of consumer passion for brands expressed in social media. In the image below ConsumerBase used the index to look at grocery stores. We can see the strong passion of love for Whole Foods and Costco and the strong passion of hate around Walmart.
I like both the technology and the data visualizations. It is nice to see both aspects done well in the same product. Jonathan mentioned that clients tell him that the tools can be addictive and I can certainly see this. ConsumerBase certainly takes brand monitoring to greater heights and depths at the same time and it could understand that both attributes were positive in this sentence.