My friends at GroundFloor Media recently introduced me to a company called Umbria. Umbria is a marketing intelligence company that analyzes the digital conversations happening on social media sites such as blogs, message boards, public social network sites like MySpace, and product review sites. But instead of just aggregating or filtering the content, Umbria uses sophisticated natural language algorithms to quantify what is being said about a product or service so that meaningful insight can be gained. More than just providing data, they can identify and measure brand recognition, emerging (or dying) trends, and demographic info about consumers. They can tell if, how much, and with what affinity a brand is mentioned and even the sentiment and gender of the author. Pretty cool stuff. I think Janet Eden-Harris, Umbria’s CEO, is on to something.
The market research industry has spent decades perfecting how to measure consumer brand behavior as it relates to television, radio, and print only to lose that consumer attention to the digital world. And that’s just us over-40 consumers who are simply shifting our focus online. Imagine the impact on brands that cater to the under-30 demographic. Those folks were born digital. Enterprise companies spend billions of dollars on market research because even fractions of a percent in market share mean millions.
The future is looking bright for Umbria. They have funding, a good management team, a great idea, and customers (they wouldn’t let me mention any). I see all kinds of applications. Can you imagine what this kind of data would mean to any of our presidential candidates?