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Factiva Still Seeking the Bubble “Reputation”
by
Posted On August 15, 2005
Two years is a lifetime in Internet terms—at least, in a product's lifetime. Nonetheless, after a failure, an acquisition, and a regrouping, Factiva is back in the business of selling a comprehensive reputation monitoring service. The latest version is entitled Factiva Insight: Reputation Intelligence; it comprises the fourth product in the Factiva Insight line. The first three were acquired along with 2B Reputation Intelligence Limited in February. (See Paula Hane's NewsBreak at http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=16271.) The new service covers more than 11,000 active Web sites, 4 million blogs and message boards, and the full array of Factiva's 9,000-plus full-text sources, including online media, radio, and television transcripts. The blog and open Web content come from an agreement with Intelliseek, Inc., a Cincinnati-based concern. Content passes through a reputation analysis tool, along with text mining and visualization developed at the newly formed Factiva Reputation Lab. One expert who has tracked the field for years commented that Factiva's effort this time has a strong chance to succeed.

The initial effort, Factiva Reputation Manager, was announced in fall 2003 and was scheduled for release in 2Q 2004. Before it could come to pass, however, Factiva announced that the ambitious project, begun using IBM WebFountain software created at IBM's Almaden Research Center, could not support the demands. The original plans had involved using a supercomputer-based infrastructure to tackle the open Web, Factiva content, proprietary databases, etc., and applying a full array of text analytics software. The turnaround time requirements may have proved too daunting, or perhaps the commitment of one or both of the partners waned.

With the February acquisition of 2B Reputation Intelligence Limited and Benchmarking Solutions Limited (a London-based specialist), Factiva received an experienced talent base, not to mention paying customers for active reputation monitoring tools. The 2B Reputation Intelligence tools became Factiva Insight's three components—Media Monitor, Media Monitor Plus, and Media Benchmark. With the addition of Factiva Insight: Reputation Intelligence, there are now four components. The 11,000 Web sites described in the announcement of the new product match the number of Web sites already in existing Factiva Insight services. The staff at Factiva already working on reputation monitoring have joined with the 2B staff to form the new Factiva Reputation Lab.

From the content, Factiva conducts text mining and visualization to produce graphical reports that can illustrate the market's perception of a company or organization, its brands, products, services, and competitors. The client can then integrate the data with internal information, such as share price, sales revenues, etc., to measure media impact on the company's key performance indicators. The service is designed to compare content that discusses products and competitors to gauge perceptions and effectiveness of corporate communication strategies, discover and track key trends and threats to corporate reputations, and place trend issues in a historical context.

According to Alan Scott, chief marketing officer at Factiva, the need for reputation monitoring tools reflects the expanding information base created by the Web. "Formerly," said Scott, "key information started with academics or analysts and then went into the vertical trade press and then, possibly, into the general press. That has changed. The vertical trade press still break some hot news, but today blogs and consumer-generated media break more." As to covering the "buzz," Scott did admit that the 9,000 sources in Factiva's Publications Library—many supplied by aggregators such as ProQuest or Thomson Gale Group—may have problems of timeliness. It can take weeks after publication before trade press sources actually enter the Factiva Publications Library.

One player notable by omission in the announcement of the new service is FAST, the search engine that Factiva had contracted with in December 2004 to form the core of its open Web handling needs. Clearly, most of the demanding open Web crawling in this product will come from Intelliseek. However, a Factiva representative assured us: "There are a number of components from the FAST platform used in our text mining platform. FAST is a significant technology partner with which we have a long-term agreement, and their technologies will be used across the entire Factiva platform."

Installing the new service involves extensive work with customers to set up complete profiles and target lists. For example, although the basic service uses 11,000 Web sites, customers can designate any Web sites they particularly want monitored. And, although the announced coverage of blogs and other customer-generated media specifies 4 million sources, the actual data licensed from Intelliseek covers its entire collection of 14.9 million sources, with thousands of new blogs added daily. Again, if customers designate particular blogs or categories of blogs, Factiva could tap its data pool to add them.

The new service uses an ASP host model, which connects users to Factiva's equipment. In a typical configuration, some 25 people at a company would have access to the full array of data, including deep visualization and click-throughs to original material. According to a Factiva representative, a client could choose to designate selected parties outside the company—e.g., public relations agency staff—to receive access. Within a company, the basic visualization charts can be disseminated to any employee.

Currently, the marketing focus for Factiva Insight: Reputation Intelligence is on business-to-consumer companies, which Scott described as, "consumer packaged goods, consumer technology, automobiles, drugs, anyone who might find the broad Web talking about their products and services." In contrast, according to Scott, the other three services in the Factiva Insight line focus on business-to-business companies. In the future, Scott will schedule planning sessions on whether to integrate some of the content with other end-user focused packages, such as Factiva SalesWorks or Factiva Companies & Executives. (Read a review by Rosemary Whitney of these two packages in the September issue of Searcher magazine.)

Fees for the Factiva Insight: Reputation Intelligence start at $225,000 and run to approximately $300,000. Alternative options do exist at substantially different costs, particularly if one only wants to track open Web material. When asked what advantage the product would have over a free RSS search update from a blog indexing service like Technorati, Scott identified three value factors: "[The advantages are o]ur taxonomy and ontology, which [offer] a lot more value for analytics; our sophisticated search and discover algorithms; and our visualization, [which is] especially useful for tracking, discovering new terms, and handling volume." Intelliseek markets its own Consumer-Generated Media data services (e.g., its BrandPulse line) directly to companies at fees that usually top off where Factiva's start.

One expert commenting on the new service remarked on the human-intensive work that Factiva puts into its effort. Not only does Factiva work well with clients, but it has conducted enough case studies using "manual" research techniques to understand the shape of good reputation monitoring results. Scott said that Factiva uses the system for monitoring its own reputation ("eye-opening," said Scott) and has initiated talks about using it with reporters at its parent companies, Dow Jones & Reuters.

CORRECTION: Hiding One's Light Under a Bushel?
Speaking as an industry journalist, I can tell you that you won't see this every day. Apparently Factiva Insight: Reputation Intelligence is a stronger product than I initially thought. A potential problem—the reliance on dated delivery of full-text stories via Publications Library and its suppliers (as described in the above NewsBreak)—has been solved in advance by partnering with a near-real-time Web news service. But, it was only the alert eye of Michael Kopp, director of marketing for Moreover Technologies, that brought this to my attention.

Moreover's Metabase supplies the coverage for the 11,000 Web sites described by Factiva. The sources all come from evaluated news sources, ranging the entire gamut from newspapers, to trade press, and even press release sections of corporate Web sites. The retrieval will include material published only digitally, unlike the traditional online archives of newspapers, for example. According to Kopp, their holdings will even track back articles that a news Web site has moved. Moreover supplied the same coverage to 2B Reputation Intelligence before Factiva acquired that company, and thus forms the basic component in Factiva Insight's other three services—Media Monitor, Media Monitor Plus, and Media Benchmark.


Barbara Quint is senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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