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Israeli ‘Net tracker monitors public opinion
Posted By ISRAEL21c Staff On August 29, 2004 @ 10:00 pm In | No Comments
Trendum predicted Britney Spears’ fall from grace. ‘Our tool can analyze target audiences in many fields better than any focus group.’Want to keep on top of the trends and fads, instead of reading about them in Entertainment Weekly and People weeks later? An Israeli startup called Trendum has developed an analytical tool that monitors information flow on the Internet to determine market trends and popularity, and how people on the Internet are thinking about everything – from pop stars to politics to ideology.
Trendum was founded four years ago with the general idea was to develop tools based on advanced technology that could provide information by analyzing discussion groups, forums, communities, chat rooms, blogs, and online responses. Specializing in online media analysis, Trendum’s proprietary Media Mining solutions have created a new way of listening, understanding and reacting to consumers’ opinions and the media. Trendum delivers actionable marketing insights from what millions of consumers and journalists are saying.
“We realized that millions of people talk about products, brands, programs and stars, constituting a huge source group that no one knew how to mine for information,” said Ori Levy, who founded the company with his father – Gallup Israel founder Jacob Levy.
“The Internet has revolutionized the way we interact, share opinions and insights, and express ourselves. There are over one million public forums, discussion boards, online newsletters, news groups and electronic communities available. We regard them as the world’s largest ‘focus group’ ever. It provides the most natural, unaided and unsolicited way to listen to consumers,” Jacob Levy added in an interview with Globes.
In describing Trendum’s virtues, the younger Levy gave a specific example of what their software can detect among Internet users faster than anyone else. And who else to use an example but the most- ‘Googled’ celebrities – Britney Spears.
“Before a meeting with Time Warner Inc., by chance we had prepared a test on the popularity of Britney Spears. Our analysis showed that her popularity was falling, which surprised the people at Time Warner. A month later, her fans threw tomatoes at her, and two months later she announced that she was retiring temporarily.
“Our engine could also analyze opinions and explain the reason for the dislike. In the case of Britney Spears, her fans stopped loving her because she was no longer a virgin, she smoked, and she has a contract with Pepsi. Our tool can analyze target audiences in many fields better than any focus group. We don’t ask people, but analyze their opinions, freely put in writing, on the Internet,” said Levy.
According to Levy, Trendum examines millions of opinions on specific websites, and look for content clusters, which thet then analyze. He said that despite forum users often not being open about their identity, Trendum can still determine the makeup of the user.
“Our tool can understand different users in-depth, because the technology engine also examines the speaker’s style, and not just the words and conjugation. We can figure out if it’s a man or a woman, and the person’s age group. The engine recognizes style and expressions characteristic of age groups. Furthermore, the communities’ members don’t answer every question put to them. Each community has its own language, and they very quickly identify intruders,” he said. He added that the engine does not contain any element that infringes on copyrights, because the material it mines is from freely available texts.
Until now, they’ve been working with media, entertainment and products companies, but their service can be used in may fields, according to Levy. “We examined audience responses to new programs for television companies, and we examined a product line for Estee Lauder. We examine almost anything, from advertising campaigns to new products, programs, movies, and even the popularity of stars,” he said.
The heart of Trendum’s proprietary Media Mining technology is its downloading and analysis mechanism: Downloading Module – This powerful engine is programmed in a spider network format and is used to collect dynamic information from hundreds of thousands of sources in real-time on a 24/7 basis. It searches and scans thousands of media sources (e.g., newspapers, magazines, trade publications, etc.) and hundreds of thousands of web bulletin boards and discussion forums, providing the most comprehensive coverage available today.
Trendum’s content analysis utilizes a wide variety of complex algorithms, including neural networks, rule induction, decision trees, and pattern analysis, combined with the most advanced text and linguistic analysis techniques. The use of multiple systems enables Trendum to derive meaningful knowledge from a wide range of textual phenomena, from short and grammatically incorrect fragments of messages to long and formal documents that cover multiple topics.
Trendum’s software has another application: the Global Hatred Index, Jacob Levy’s pride and joy. He has already presented the index at a UN conference on dismantling sources of intolerance. “We examined two million messages, which the hatred index analyzed. We tried to decode the components of anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic hatred in the US,” said Jacob Levy.
“Not only could we examine the power of hatred, we could provide insights into people’s opinions. The hatred index showed us that much of the antipathy toward the US was due to President George W. Bush, as well as the Iraq War. The index can help design programs for changing public perceptions.”
Globes reported that The UN has already notified Trendum that it is ready to hire its services. Unlike other start-ups, founded and financed by venture capital funds on the basis of prospectuses promising future products and customers, Trendum already has a product and a few customers, including large, well-established companies satisfied with its services. Trendum has also sold its technology and services to Time Warner, Estee Lauder, CNN and HBO
“We decided to found Trendum after Gallup Israel was sold to the Gallup Organization,” said Ori Levy. “Since I managed Gallup Israel’s high-tech, we knew how we wanted to do it. We knew we didn?t want financing for the testing and preparation stage. In addition, the high-tech bubble had burst and it was difficult at that time to raise capital for a new idea. We preferred to develop a product and bring it to market before seeking financing. And that’s what we did.”
(Based on a report in Globes)
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