Quirk quantifies the unquantifiable

Paul Vecchiatto
By Paul Vecchiatto, ITWeb Cape Town correspondent
Cape Town, 07 Apr 2008

Online marketing company Quirk has developed a software application that aims to quantify the unquantifiable - a company's online reputation.

Called Brandseye, the system was developed over a 22-month period and officially launched to Quirk's customer base two weeks ago.

The system aims to capture all online mentions of phrases that directly relate to a company, its products and the environment in which it operates. It then quantifies how its online reputation is evolving and how it can react to negative mentions or improve its reputation.

Quirk marketing manager Tim Shier says the idea for Brandseye came from Quirk's founder Rob Stokes, who felt the current online tools did not make it easy for companies to measure their online reputation.

"There are a lot of tools out there, but none can actually compile the data into a meaningful format, as we do," he says.

Wicked AI

Shier says other methods have tried to use artificial intelligence (AI), but this has proved to be problematic as they often fall down with mixed phrasing.

"An example would be where a blogger uses the phrase 'wicked cool' to describe a product or experience. An AI system would take the word 'wicked' to mean a negative connotation, while the phrase in its entirety is actually very positive."

Shier says a company can look at the online reputation of its brand, products, senior staff members, competitors or other factors that have an influence.

The Brandseye system is written on a Java platform with a lot of scripting and the reporting is displayed in fully-interactive graphs.

Masie's praise

Brandseye has received praise from Google SA country manager Stafford Masie in his blog, although it has not received an official endorsement from the US search engine giant.

"I don't think Google would give us any endorsement, because what we are doing falls so far out of its core business," Shier says.

Masie mentions in his personal blog that online reputation management (ORM) is growing in importance as the Internet is increasingly used as a marketing and information tool.

"If you are not doing ORM today... you soon will be," Masie writes in his blog.

Shier says Brandseye has been beta tested with a number of companies, including those in public relations. Locally there are 24 companies using it, including Absa and SA Tourism. There are also about six international companies using it.

Quirk charges R5 000 per month for a company to use Brandseye. It charges an additional R28 per mention to compile the reporting.