A New Service for CGM

Consumer Generated Media Metrics Services:

Employing Advanced Natural Language Text Processing to Provide Guidance to Mid-Market Multiline Dealers and Product Distributors.

Alan Wilensky
Executive Summary
The present rage over such issues as ‘sentiment analysis’ and text mining of the public corpora is fertile ground for a fresh and focused analysis of the state of the CGM industry; such an analysis was recently undertaken by the author.  The author’s privately commissioned report answered various questions, such as:

what is the state of the industry?
are early entrants employing a sustainable business model?
what is the traditional / entrenched competition?
what has been missed, where is the prime the opportunity?

Without betraying the verbatim text of the 90 day analysis compiled at the behest of the previous client, the author would indeed like to share the non-proprietary conclusions leading to strategies for future products and services.

The most abstract and brief statement of the analysis is that current CGM services being proffered to the marketplace by the early entrants (Cymfony, Buzzmetrics) are purely focused on Brand Owners, occupying positions chiefly within the fortune 1000. The services provided by these leaders are positioned against traditional brand equity services (provided by AC Nielsen, Arbitron, and Gallup). Cloning the established recurring campaign model, and offering such services to a limited cadre of potential clients (that already have access to repeatable data from entrenched leaders) is not a formula for success.

The author’s commissioned analysis for the previous client bears this out by verifying statements from some of the equity investors involved in early CGM ventures. Such bitter regrets led to the sale of Cymfony to TNS – the very nature of the acquiring entity1 is a repudiation of the brand equity campaign model being applied to Consumer Generated Media metrics.

Sentiment is the weakest of CGM metrics, and the notion that highly customized campaigns that are iteratively refined by the client and CGM agency, is simply unsustainable when compared to services provided by the multi-billion dollar brand equity leaders deriving solid, actionable data from surveys, focus groups, and other statistical sources.

Furthermore, the attribute  of brand ‘equity’, or ownership, is truly limited to a very elite few, when viewed within the total business opportunity matrix. Therefore, the few high latency campaigns that have been sampled by the brand owners, as replacements or adjuncts to existing brand equity services, are simply not making a sustainable impression.

The author believes that the real, sustainable market for CGM analysis lies in the mid-market – those companies that are recipients of branding decisions and who make the daily decisions as to what lines to carry, and which products to drop; we are truly speaking of the multi-line retailers and product distributors that most of us deal with regularly in our personal and professional lives.

The mid-market makes up the lion share of commerce decisions; while the fortune 1000 CPG and durable goods markets toy with Sentiment Analysis, the mid-market struggles with allocation of limited dollars in actual cash and lines of finite credit. Which line shall we carry or drop, what action shall we take in light of incentives taking the form of cooperative advertising and floor-plan financing contributed by manufacturers and up-stream distributors? In short, what is the actionable intelligence we can gain from any service that can steer the ship of commerce?

The answer is to create this actionable market intelligence from multiple text corpora (for statistical accuracy), and to employ a greatly extended model of linguistic metrics based on phrasal Ontologies which detect consumer issues, outcomes, and declarations. Such issue detection methods result in real, actionable metrics. These metrics lend themselves to statistical scrutiny, and may be charted against offers from the brand owners – such as the aforementioned contributions of advertising cooperative program dollars, as well as seemingly advantageous adjustments to a multi-line dealer’s floor planning finance carrying charges.

With such a service in place, dealers and distributors who must make constant corrections to their product catalogs and inventory levels, etc., may avail-themselves of a more dispassionate decision support methodology. Such a hosted services solution can be monetized in many ways, i.e., by subscriptions, at varying service levels as a free or ad supported service, or as an up-sell generator for  hosted CRM services.

By Linking the aforementioned perceptions and “statements of outcome” with variables that are derived from the decision matrix data important to the mid-market (such as cooperative advertising, floor-planning, and inventory financing incentive programs), such a subscriber based system can be created to offer guidance to multi-line dealers/distributors in regards to purchasing decisions, and weighing program incentives against overall market perceptions.

The component technologies that must be developed for this system are sufficiently novel, such that revenues from licensing, syndication style Web 2.0 widget embedding, and turnkey system via VAR are entirely possible as ancillary revenue streams in addition to offering a comprehensive, hosted solution.

The author is of the firm opinion that such a system is within reach, given the appropriate project management, sound architectural principles, and the application of creative thinking diligently applied to crystalizing superior solutions.

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