The more money ... the more buzz - Nielsen

Nielsen BuzzMetrics just released the results of a new study establishing some strong correlation between online buzz and media spending. $20 million is the price tag for rising above the noise.

On average, the top 10% of products with the most buzz, spent nearly $20 million on paid media for the launch.
Companies that generated the next 40% of blog buzz spent an average of $15 million

I was surprised by the coverage head ratio, few brands generate most of the content. I would have expected the explosion of consumer generated content to actually surface the tail and put some light on smaller brands
10% of brands accounted for 85% of total CPG buzz in the study.

The study sounds pretty encouraging for emerging semantic technology applications such as online buzz monitoring, tone polarity extraction and sentiment analysis. The more brand advertising dollars shifting online, the more requirements for evaluating impact on social media buzz.

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Searchles = Search + Circles

Social discovery engine Searchles announced enhanced video search functionality and a creative Ajax-based search button surfacing social refinement options. The Searchles platform includes many of the basic "social search" features such as tagging, sharing, comments, voting and social ranking, groups, messaging and clearly considers video content as just another media users can submit, tag, share submit. Thinking about it, Searchles is not unlike Digg, maybe just more personal and not yet as popular. Searchles positions itself as a a highly scaleable "social search" platform that showcases expertise, enables collaboration with peers and instantly captures it in searchable knowledge indexes. The platform is a hybrid, combining aspects of "social bookmarking" and "social networking" technology with analytical "social search" capability.

* New search box [...] designed to be more compatible with the enhanced search options of a social search[...]. This innovative new feature combines the user-friendly display of a traditional search box with the range of network oriented social search options on Searchles – such as searching through your friends’ or groups’ posts – made visible as one scrolls over the search button.

* Many video sites only offer users the capability to search within said site, while Searchles enables users to do only one search to access a pool of videos that spans all of your favorite video sites as well as Searchles TV Channels users have created.

Reaching critical mass to fuel the social network effect is probably one of the top social search challenges along with combating Spam. The more users, the more interactions value top surface and the more content submitted.

Searchles gets somewhat lost in the sea of PR noise generated by FaceBook and others, while still managing to sustain the interest of some in the blogophere with a couple posts a day in average as reported by Nielsen's BlogPulse and IceRocket.

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Digital influencers will grow to 34.4 million in 2011 - eMarketer

Many Computational Linguistic departments across the country are busy developing a broad range of Semantic-based algorithms these days. Browsers came from the academic world, so did a lot of search technology, why not sentiment extraction.

Advertisers traditionally follow consumers. eMarketer just released a study mentioning that already 66 million adults regularly share advice about products and services with others, and 27 million are exerting that influence online. As more people become comfortable with voicing their opinions on the Internet, the number of digital influencers will grow to 34.4 million in 2011. There is a shift underway from few-to-many to many-to-many publishing models resulting in an explosion of consumer-generated media. 44% of Internet users are content creators (PEW), and an increasing ratio of search engine's top results are now user-authored content. Brand owners are losing share of voice and control over their message. Internet sentiment analysis, buzz monitoring and online reputation management could very well emerge as the next significant search marketing era after SEO and SEM.

SentiMetrix is one of these emerging startups I have been keeping in touch with over the past months. SentiMetrix is offering innovative technology framework to measure sentiments or opinions expressed in the electronic media, worldwide. It combines data gathering with named entity extraction and text analytics, to track opinions expressed about the topics requested by SentiMetrix clients. SentiMetrix platform is based on the award-winning Oasys technology (http://oasys.umiacs.umd.edu/oasys/) developed at the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies by Dr. V.S. Subrahmanian and his team. By combining statistical methods with natural language processing techniques, the software closely mimics the way humans perceive opinions expressed in electronic texts, be it news articles, blog posts or customer reviews.

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Why I left AOL Search

I started at AOL Search almost 3 years ago, hoping to be part of the turn around story, taking AOL to the Web and integrating search consequently. ... I was also thinking no one would single-handedly hold responsible if AOL missed a step.

I spent most of the past decade planning and building search experiences from developing the first SafeSearch application in 1994 with InterGO to crawling and parsing applications with Microsoft in 1996, then Altavista, Infospace and AOL.

I was realistic. After IAC acquired Ask, I knew there was no room for AOL Search to rank among the top 3 players in the traditional search category. Personal technology categories, from desktop operating systems to browsers and productivity apps have traditionally had enough room for two leaders and a third rotating player. I also knew the search ecosystem was heading for fragmentation. Crawling, indexing, computational linguistic and managing consumer media experiences definitely don’t require the same core competencies. Given the rise of social networking, broadband penetration, the explosion of consumer generated content and the emergence of awesome technologies re-inventing user interaction models. I also knew that AOL on the Web still had a unique opportunity to reclaim its historical online community fame and core competency.

I thought AOL had a unique opportunity to repositions itself as a Discovery Engine, taking the lead on becoming the leader of an emerging new social search category. FullView was the base for exactly that. Social search is This is just what my team focused on after integrating Search capabilities and optimizing revenue across the Network including the AOL portals, Email apps, MapQuest, Netscape and more to reach about 110 million UVs.

In May, the new AOL management team - probably rightfully when considering corporate strategic goals - decided to copy and paste the Google experience to gain some level of business parity. I always knew that was a possibility while evangelizing social search as a differentiation factor and stuck around to the end. Let Semantic Search technology, Social Search, and Sentiment analysis strive.

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