Scout Labs Offers Cheaper Way To Monitor Consumers
Taking the place of costly white papers and consultancy fees, the Web-based automated software allows clients to glean their own quantitative and qualitative data by monitoring and analyzing consumer conversations across the increasingly vast social media landscape.
"We're trying to make the listening process less scary and more accessible," said Scout Labs CEO Jennifer Zeszut. "We give clients the tools so they can make the big decisions on their own, rather than pay a consultant for that."
Using natural language and text processing techniques, Scout Labs has quietly provided some 300 clients with a suite of analysis tools, including real-time sentiment detection, for the past six months.
At launch, the San Francisco-based company is boasting a client list of some 200 customer-focused companies including Netflix, Hewlett Packard, Target, Nike and StubHub, along with agencies, including AKQA, Organic and Tribal DDB.
"Gauging consumer sentiment has become so important that companies and agencies want to bring to it in-house," Zeszut added.
In-house or not, many analysts agree than listening in on consumer conversations is a critical yet costly activity. "Brands don't have unlimited resources," Forrester Research analyst Suresh Vittal said in a recent report. "They're obviously not going to get involved in every conversation, but listening platforms help them decide which conversations are best to participate in and which are best to let alone."
Despite the company's bright prospects, however, Zeszut admits to worrying about Nielsen and TNS eventually offering similar self-service products.
"That concerns me, but people I know at those companies tell me that consultant firms are not product companies, and I believe that's true," she said.
Depending upon how many platforms, or "workspaces," and how many concurrent text searches clients need, software costs range from $100 to $750 a month.
For that, clients gain access to automatically generated metrics and analysis, including real-time sentiment scoring, buzz volume and share-of-voice calculations, conversation digests, trend-spotting and email reports.
Scout Labs' collaboration functionality, meanwhile, provides client and agency teams with a platform to listen to customers together, add insights and to-dos, and engage directly with customers and each other.
Scout Labs tracks the major social Web channels including Twitter, social networks, blogs, and image- and video-sharing sites. The company does not presently track conversations across networks like Facebook, which require members to sign in.
Other clients at launch include Jamba Juice, Intel, Charles Schwab, Dreyers, Sun Microsystems, CBS, Sony BMG, Razorfish, Landor, Ogilvy, Ketchum, Deloitte & Touche and BBDO.