Biz Intel That Drills Into Tech Press

Public relations and corporate communications firms have long tracked how their
companies are covered in the press, from traditional “clipping” services to
building databases of articles, writers, and topics, and rating their
coverage.

But compared to other business intelligence packages, such as customer
relationship management (CRM) and sales analytics, media and marketing-related
packages are still largely seen as a soft science because of the difficulty in
analyzing how all that media coverage adds up.

Now, Biz360, which specializes in business intelligence analytics
packages that slice and dice how media coverage plays online and off, has
ramped up its lines in order to provide even more granularity in tracking
how media coverage impacts a company’s bottom line.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based company said its main product, Market360, now
includes optional consulting services in order to help corporate PR and
marketing departments establish benchmarks and measure the impact of
communications on global reputations and brands. The Market360 application
has also undergone a redesign so that it can be integrated with internal PR
departments’ own workflow.

Also part of its upgrade: several next-generation metrics, including
MediaSignal, and an addition called “Feature Equivalence,” which helps
determine the value of media coverage compared to competitor coverage.

The latest release from the business intelligence provider comes after it
beefed up alliances with key database providers, such as Factiva and
LexisNexis, whose databases are piped into the company’s own hosted
database engine.

Biz360’s products take all its data feeds of media and
builds extensive graphs and data trackers for customers, such as fever
charts that track how many negative stories compare with positive ones, or
neutral ones for that matter. The database includes the traditional media
sources, such as TV and print and major media databases, Web
publications, online trade publications and, yes, even blogs, as well as what
Biz360 calls “influencers,” such as pundits or known analysts.

Biz360 isn’t the only company looking for more market share in this
sub-sector of business intelligence. Packages with deeply integrated
analytics are rapidly gaining steam, as technology spending continues to
recover and more companies find themselves rich in data but poor in
understanding of what it all means to their strategic focus.

IBM, for one, is working with Factiva in
developing its own kind of business-intelligence system and is expected to
launch a product around that effort. In addition, Microsoft’s commitment to
building out its search functions includes its News Tracker and Blog Tracker
features, which counter Google’s own popular news and blog trackers.

Doug Laney, vice president of enterprise analytics strategies with
research firm Meta Group, said Biz360 has found a way to weave in media
metrics with customer metrics to help measure a PR firm’s
performance on behalf of the company it hired to help manage its
news flow.

“PR heretofore has been a touchy-feely type of exercise,” said Laney. “What this
company has done is lay the groundwork for defining an almost standard set
of metrics and even optimization processes around those metrics. The product
is looking to tap into a larger trend that, from a business-process
perspective, all businesses are trying to find a way to measure what they do
and do it better.”

He said PR, marketing and communications are typically seen as a soft
spend compared to other business-intelligence packages. But the company has
“built quite a bit of intelligence into the product so that you can not only
gauge things like hits, but whether they were positive, negative or neutral.
From a PR perspective, this eliminates a lot of the gruntwork” of those
kinds of metrics.

The privately held Biz360, which is backed by Granite Ventures and BA
Ventures, counts over 70 customers who include Astra Zenca, Bank of America,
Harley Davidson, Oracle (and PeopleSoft), MetLife and Verizon.

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