There are “spiders” that crawl all over the web looking for references to products and services in the huge multiplicity of blogs, twitters and chats. Technologists are trying to create programmes not only to find them but to assess their positivity or negativity, and the associations that people have with them. One day, it’s hoped, we’ll be able to understand all the interaction about the brands directly as it happens, and that will bring marketers closer to consumers.
There’s a problem though. The challenge of getting robust, meaningful data from millions of mentions by automatic data-crunching is hard enough. But what happens when no-one actually talks about your brand? The fact is, it’s only the sexy technology brands that tend to get discussed. When’s the last time you saw a blog about Lurpak or Elastoplast? When did you last Twitter about Toilet Duck? Or Dettol? Or indeed any household cleaner?
The truth is, most brands just aren’t discussed online. But they are still a big part of the economy. So what do we do? BrandIndex of course measures over a thousand brands every day, and the vast majority of them are, well... quite dull. But they’re still an essential part of our lives. So every day we at YouGov present 2,000 people with a screen of brands and ask them to click on the ones they’ve heard something positive about from friends or family, and then another screen for negative. And we discover that actually, people do talk about these everyday products – it’s just they don’t blog about them. The graph shows 10 well-known but rarely-twittered brands. It turns out nearly one in 10 of us heard something good about “Vanish’”recently, and only a fraction of a per cent heard something bad. You won’t find an Apple App for that.
Stephan Shakespeare is co-founder and chief innovation officer of YouGov.