Nielsen Launches Group to Help Manage Online Reputations

Nielsen Online is launching a digital strategic services group to help marketers manage their reputations online and engage with social media.

The group will be led by Nielsen EVP Pete Blackshaw, former CMO and founder of Nielsen BuzzMetrics and a one-time leader of interactive marketing at Procter & Gamble. Blackshaw is also a long-time ClickZ columnist.

Nielsen is establishing the group in reaction to internal research indicating that at least one-third of its BuzzMetrics clients were seeking additional outside consulting services. The Digital Services Group will aim to provide those services within Nielsen, helping clients not only obtain data about their brands online but guide their strategies for engagement.

“CGM (consumer-generated media) has moved into the C-suite, and executives and brand managers face an unprecedented range of choices, from how much to invest in digital marketing to how to leverage social media in public relations,” Blackshaw said in a statement. “We’re able to educate clients and help them make the right choices to seize digital opportunities to connect with consumers and grow their brands.”

The group’s proprietary tools include something called the Brand Advocacy Quotient, or BAQ Score. The score, derived by combining survey-based data with Nielsen ratings data, will be used to determine if consumers are promoting or eroding a client’s brand. The score will help the digital group determine how and in what proportions to leverage various online media, such as social networks, blogs, video, and a brand’s own Web site.

“We’ve learned that in some industries such as banking and consumer electronics, customer service experiences drive significant consumer feedback — both positive and negative — on blogs, message boards, or YouTube,” explained Emily Sobol, senior consultant with the Digital Group. “We can use that insight to help brands make informed strategic choices to improve their overall customer service and satisfaction.”

On a Webinar conducted Thursday, Blackshaw and Jeff Zabin, a research fellow from the Aberdeen Group, discussed the various ways, both positive and negative, that consumer feedback can impact a brand’s online profile.

“When a consumer goes sour on a brand now, they leave a digital trail online” that can be found not just by other consumers but “lawyers, reporters, analysts, and other influencers that can really begin to cast aspersion on and erode the reputation of your brand,” Blackshaw said.

Blackshaw, author of the upcoming book on customer service online strategies, “Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000: Running a Business in Today’s Consumer-Driven World,” also stressed the importance of authenticity when interacting with consumers online. “They can see through the bull. They are looking for more authentic interactions with brands. Which is why you now see a lot of CMOs starting to blog.”

Nielsen, which owns publications such as “Adweek” and “Brandweek,” in addition to its data consulting services, last month announced its intention to acquire IAG Research.

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