Bloggers have ‘arrived' at the table traditionally occupied by journalists and analysts. For example, at SAP's recent annual conference for 10,000 users in Berlin, there was a special room for bloggers to touchdown, plug in portable PCs and blog away. A clear sign of the increasing importance of bloggers. Maybe journalists and analysts should team up with bloggers (as they do on www.it-analysis.com) to form the JAB acronym?
Jupiter Research reckons bloggers are more educated, more affluent, and more passionate about things than your average internet user. They are also often younger, more maverick, more outspoken, and probably have no journalistic qualifications. Anyone, from a PC in their back bedroom, can join the ‘Blogosphere'. There are virtually no barriers to entry. In June 2008 Technorati reckons there were 112.8 million blogs and 250+ million pieces of tagged social media. Wow.
Blogs are influential. Attentio says one in three car buyers use social media before buying. Three out of four IT professionals consult social media tools and user-generated content before purchasing. Four out of ten patients use online support groups to discuss medication and therapies, and the same proportion of adult leisure travelers read blogs, share photos, or take virtual tours. Big chunks of market share are being influenced by bloggers. No wonder marketers are interested.
Attentio offers a solution for B2B and B2C marketers and marketing agencies operating in Europe. Attentio offers customized Brand Dashboards, Buzz Reports, and Industry Reports on a SaaS annual subscription basis from €1,000 per desktop per month. Attentio Brand Dashboards help Brand Managers in household-name companies like Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, Toyota, Intel and Lexus to see what bloggers and forum users are saying about their products in real-time.
Daily brand reports of ‘buzz' (conversations and blog entries) are pushed to users' desktops in summary graphical form, providing brand performance comparisons and rankings versus competitive products by source, topic and country. Dashboards are fully interactive for local manipulation of data. Historical performance tables, and multi-dimensional competitive bubble charts embedded in the dashboard are due in the next release.
These reports help Brand Managers to ‘see the future first'. Marketers gain customer insights into the features customers like and dislike in products to feedback to R&D. Marketers see what people are saying immediately about their new product launch or marketing campaign. They see public opinion storm clouds brewing, so that they can prevent potential crisis situations such as mass product recalls and their associated brand equity destruction.
Attentio's products also enable marketers to identify and rank the importance of opinion leader bloggers, who are seriously listened to by consumers making purchasing decisions. These are often not the ‘usual suspects' but ‘Tier 2' bloggers who hold great sway in a specific industry or community.
The mega marketing agencies, McGraw-Hill, Nielsen, and TNS have all acquired their way into the ‘User Generated Content' (UGC) market in the US. Currently Europe is in its early stages of market development and competition is fragmented. Attentio will need to push to maintain position as a European best-of-breed champion, but the early signs are promising for both the UGC market and Attentio.