Monday, August 27, 2007

YouTube provides brand scorecard

The popularity of YouTube is undeniable. This promoted me to see if it could be used to rank major brands. While highly unscientific in some ways and slightly unreliable in others, I used the search engine in YouTube to see which major brands got the most clips when you search by their name.

The results were:

Brand Number of clips
Disney 224,000 <--- I guess they ought to have a lot of content!
Google 97,000 <--- they own YouTube...
Yahoo! 81,100
Apple 74,200
Microsoft 44,700
Coca Cola 34,400
Toyota 33,400
Nokia 27,700
McDonalds 22,000
GE 15,000
WalMart 10,600
Starbucks 7,200
Intel 6,280

Now this research took about 5 minutes and as you can probably tell was based on a list of brand names I pulled form an old Fortune article plus a few names I threw in. It wouldn't be hard to do some more detailed research using the YouTube site and search engine to get a sense of how many clips are appearing each day by brand etc. As it stands I can't find a way of seeing which brand has the most number of clips associated other than by trial and error. Perhaps YouTube could issue a press release with that data?

Anyway, for those people looking to help big brands with their marketing, it seems YouTube provides a pretty simple way to score companies. There are of course some difficulties and these relate largely to the way the search engines work. For example if you put in 'Ford' as a search topic you will get a lot of clips that have nothing to do with Ford Motor Company showing up. Conversely if you put in Ford Motor Company it will only list those clips where people took the trouble to tag the clip with the full name. So YouTube is far from perfect but once again we do at least have another quick and cost effective measurement tool available.

Just for fun I also checked to see what the numbers were like for the bigger PR firms. The results were:

Text 100 312
Edelman 295
Hill & Knowlton 18
BM 8
Weber Shandwick 4
Fleishman Hillard 2
Ketchum 2

As you can see, the PR agencies have some way to go to catch the big brands....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wikipedia Scanner designed to create PR nightmares

Last night on NPR's Future Tense they interviewed, Virgil Griffith, the creator of WikiScanner, a tool that shows who made what edits to entries in Wikipedia. When asked why he created it he said he did it to create PR nightmares for companies that were using wikipedia as a disinformation tool. Indeed on his own blog he says he created the tool to: "To create a fireworks display of public relations disasters for all the world to sit back, and enjoy." This is a man who is clearly annoyed to see that some companies are attempting to hide behind the anymous posting policy on wikipedia and distort entries relating to their business. An example he used in the interview was of soft drinks manufacturers removing mentions that these drinks were harmful to your health. I think it's great that he has created this tool as I think it will help clean up wikipedia. Having lived through the nightmare of getting my own business listed on wikipedia I do worry that it will make people less likely to contribute though. When I listed Next Fifteen it created a host of comments about my independence and therefore the entry's credibility. In truth I never tried to hide my identity and the edits I made were to make sure it was factually accurate and that it met the criteria the 'wiki police', as I call them, were telling me the piece had to meet.

I have to say though that if wikipedia has been so abused by big companies, I am surprised that a 'PR firestorm' or two hasn't already started. Or is it simply that nobody has yet really used the tool in anger? Either way I guess from here on in PROs had better be aware that their entries are being watched. Of course I guess they could always make entries using a computer at an internet cafe given the tool relies on the IP address of the computer making the entry. No PRO is clever enough to do that of course.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What is wrong with books?

The Associateed Press released a AP-Ipsos Poll yesterday that shows that one in four Americans didn't read a single book last year. Nont one. Not even a Harry Potter book. Curiously, book sales are flat despite the fact that the AP-Ipsos Poll suggests that more and more Americans are finding other ways of spending their time reading books. This suggests that the ones that are reading are actually reading more books. Also shown in the poll is a bunch of data that you would likely expect. Out of Women that read they tend to average nine books a year versus men who read a mere five (it doesn't say who reads the more interesting stuff ;). So it would seem that we now need to add the death of the traditional book to the slow painful death of the newspaper...

If you want to read the details of the Poll click the link below. It has all sorts of interesting facts. For example of the books that were read the most popular were the Bible and other religious texts at 64%, whereas business books got a mere 4%.

Clean conscience

Like many people in California I drive to and from work. In truth there is little choice unless you want to embark on a public transport system that would take twice the time and cost pretty much the same amount. I am due to change my car in a few months and have been getting my mind around the idea of buying a Toyota Prius. For the record I can’t say I like these cars very much. I fall in to the group that thinks they are relatively ugly. However, as someone that believes we need to do our part for the environment, a Prius seems the best bet. That said, when you look at the cost of a Prius, which is after all a pretty basic car, you realize that you are paying about a $10,000 premium to drive a car that is more eco friendly. As someone who typically owns a car for about three years that isn’t too bad when spread over the cars life - or is it? I’ve been looking at which, like in the UK, gives you a chance to buy carbon credits for all the nasty emissions your life produces. For example, you can pay about $200 and that will apparently make your home carbon neutral for a year, a similar sum would handle emissions from most people’s annual air travel. When it comes to cars the TerraPass site estimated the cost of clearing out my emissions to be $50 a year for my current vehicle or $30 a year for a Prius. You can see where this is going can’t you? So for $150 I could make up for my car’s emissions during its time in my hands. Put another way if I bought a slightly more attractive car that actually cost less than the Prius but wasn’t as eco friendly I could use the saving to buy a massive amount of carbon credits. Indeed I’d likely have enough credits for all the people that read this article. So what do I do? Should I buy the Prius and feel good about it’s eco stats or get something cheaper and buy each of you a carbon credit?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cutting the wires

Last month Sun Microsystems announced the beginning of the end for the wire services by saying that they would use the Internet as their primary distribution channel for important news, with the wires carrying the news 15 minutes later. Their first major announcement to be handled this way was their quarterly earnings and it seems to have gone without a hitch. I can only guess how many other Fortune 500 companies are watching to see how this switch goes so that in time they can end the somewhat old fashioned notion of using a wire service to distribute news. In the age of the Internet and RSS feeds it does seem very strange to rely on a wire service but on closer examination there is an argument, albeit a rather flimsy one, to keep the wires in place, at least for now. The argument as I see it is simple - the Internet can be unreliable and isn't necessarily controlled by the person either sending or receiving information. This means messages can get hacked, blocked etc and who is then responsible? Add to this the fact that we know that some companies have CEOs that are prepared to do things that are less than 100% legal (witness the stock option back dating mess) and you realize that it would not be hard to conjure up the situation where company A's earnings release is blocked by company B's hired hackers. So while I for one fully expect the Internet to replace the wire services, I also suspect that the wires will continue to stay in business until such time that such issues can be fully overcome.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Has MySpace died and will the WSJ follow?

Pre Murdoch I heard about MySpace every week if not day in one way or another. Since Murdoch bought it, the military has banned its use by soldiers and Facebook has arrived as the latest 'thing' in social media. This makes we wonder about a couple of things:

1) Are social media sites a bit like search engines were back in the old days - destined to be superseded until somebody invents the Google equivalent?

2) Will Murdoch's acquisition of the WSJ be a good thing? The apparent disappearance of MySpace is of course a PR problem. MySpace is still huge and getting bigger by all counts. It simply doesn't get the buzz that Facebook currently enjoys. While I'd argue that Murdoch still doesn't seem to know what do to with MySpace, it would be hard to argue that he'll have the same challenge with the WSJ. He understands the newspaper business and will presumably leave the news side of the publication well alone. He may well change the right wing tone of the editorials but even that is debatable. He does have a challenge on his hands though. He has bought a publication, that like most other newspapers, is losing readers on a daily basis. Sure, they are acquiring some online readers but the overall picture isn't a good one. At a certain level he will be forced to make some changes at some point, if only to make sure he can continue to generate reasonable returns. I guess the question is how long will he wait before he acts and how will he go about it?