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Evaluating the media: March 2008

PR geekiness - the tools & techniques to gain insights from PR exposure

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Don't use a computer to measure online media 'buzz'

Adweek has put together a very interesting discussion on online and social media measurement. The principle points IMO relate to the practicality of programs from providers like Cymfony and BuzzMetrics being able to automatically tell you how good your media exposure is.

I must admit I am beginning quite sanguine about the notion of how good automated solution for representing online and social media are. Organisations are spending many, many thousands of the ever-tightening media budget on the online equivalent of a wetted figure in the air.

I really think we need to step back and take a long look at the sense in letting a computer mark your coverage. Even with the recent developments in the semantic web a computer can not understand text. It can not grasp an argument, highlight creativity, isolate messaging, or most importantly assign favourability. Until they can, any automated measurement tool will be nothing more than an expensive marketing gimmick.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Doing the Zurich Test

Is the semantic web now becoming a reality. Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said all the tools are in place, it just needs people to collate the data and make the applications. As mentioned yesterday we have been trialling one of the recent tools developed by Reauters called Calais.

The techno language bit is a bit baffling to a non-techie like me but I have understood enough to run a few queries on what I call challenging texts. Would it be able to distiguish between company names, places and people? The image above is an extract from the output and I must admit I am pretty impressed. Although it failed a few times yesterday, on this extract from the FT it was able to distingussh between Zurich the financial services company and the Swiss town - pretty good!

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Calais goes semantic

Just last week my wife and myself spent a few days in France and while travelling back I was catching up on some editions of For Immediate Release, which covers just everything you need to know about communications and the online environment. It just so happened that as we approached the North French coast Neville and Shel started talking about Calais, but it was not the nearby town but a new access devise created by Reuters as a test-bed for public access to what is referred to as the semantic web.

A few years ago I went to a conference which set out what XML can do for you. My conclusion was, in ignorance, very little. The semantic web is an open attempt to make our use of the net more relevant by allowing computers to understand what they are looking for.

A short example: If you are searching for references to the financial services company Zurich, you will get lots of references to the Swiss town. If a computer has these names 'tagged' with a meaning then you could filter out all the town references, and all of a sudden the results are more accurate and meaningful. This will be a massive help to accurate research enabling far more accurate online analysis.