Waggener Edstrom Bends An Ear to Online Chatter

Waggener Edstrom Worldwide will offer a PR and marketing measurement tool called Narrative Network to its clients and additional users. The service measures the effectiveness of brand messages in both online and offline media.

The Narrative Network is software that generates visual maps of reportage and chatter taking place on the Web and in offline media. “The maps give clients a clear and holistic view of their corporate image and how successful their marketing communications efforts have been to date,” said Daniel Gallagher, VP of research at Waggener Edstrom.

Searchable digital components include Web sites, blogs and social media sites. It generally captures and collects text via RSS feeds; once it’s in the database, the text mining and mapping software sorts the relevant data to render a map. The same type of system is used for offline media, culled from broadcast transcripts of TV and radio content.

Though it’s offered by a PR firm, the application has uses beyond public relations. “These maps can be used on several levels, including informing PR and advertising decisions; formulating competitive responses to online dialogue; pre-empting industry actions and decisions; and informing online and offline communications strategy and messaging development,” said Gallagher.

Many public relations firms offer similar services to their clients. Omnicom’s Ketchum launched a personalized media service over a year ago allowing clients to communicate with journalists through a variety of online channels. The firm’s Partner and MD in Chicago, Paul Rand, recently told ClickZ many clients were using the service to listen.

Further competition comes from monitoring products offered by firms like Nielsen BuzzMetrics, Cymfony, Umbria and Buzzlogic.

“The key differentiator of the Narrative Network software is that it is a quantitative tool to accurately measure all the content or dialogue being generated online,” said Gallagher. “It enables clients to deal with the ocean of online information… Most of the blog measurement tools can identify your online influentials; the Narrative Network can actually boil the ocean of online posts down to one easy-to-read map.”

To illustrate the “boil the ocean” metaphor, Gallagher described a particular instance of visual mapping performed for a client. “The Narrative Network recently parsed over 42,000 articles containing over 128 megabytes of text down to one map.”

Waggener Edstrom’s clients include Microsoft, Advanced Micro Devices, MasterCard International and T-Mobile USA. A handful of its clients already use the Narrative Network software as part of its services.

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