Web Monitoring and Clipping Services Round-Up
Recently, information about a new product called NetCurrents came across my desk [http://www.netcurrents.com]. It bills itself as “The Premier Internet Intelligence Agency” and offers several capabilities for various applications. The timing was right for adding this site to my existing list of bookmarks on Web tracking and monitoring tools. I’ve been collecting them for about a year, but this one gave rise to my digging a little more deeply to find several such companies. Yahoo! provides a list of possibilities [see Table 1 on page 27].
How does one define Web monitoring and “clipping” services? For this article, I’ve selected companies that primarily monitor the Web, rather than trying to cover the whole gamut of available clipping services. (Table 1, however, does carry the names of some companies offering general clipping services.) In part, this is because of my particular interest in competitive intelligence (CI), which has even been characterized as the “purposeful and coordinated monitoring of your competitor(s), wherever and whoever they may be…” [Arik R. Johnson, Aurora WDC, http://aurorawdc.com/whatisci.htm].
More and more, we information professionals face an increasing demand from clients to find ways to capture, organize, and distribute information born and bred on the Web. It’s this demand that has given rise to companies that primarily monitor the Web. Yes, a new industry has been born! In addition to CI applications, the services I’ve selected can also serve the needs of public relations and corporate communications, the securities industry, investment activities, investor relations, and government agencies — anyone who needs to track what’s being said and promised on the Web.
These new Web monitoring companies have one key similarity —all are pricey — although some are more expensive than others. Apart from those featured here, my bookmarks for free and low-cost services with e-mail alert capabilities have quadrupled in the past year (see Table 2 on page 28).
[By the way, the author requests you e-mail her your favorites or experiences with any of those cited if so inclined. I still need to add and revise my collection — firstname.lastname@example.org.]
products have been around for several years. In November 1995, Searcher
selected eWatch (acquired by PR Newswire this past January) as the “Supersearch
Pick of the Month” in an article entitled “Internet Current Awareness Service:
eWatch Internet ‘Clipping’ Service.” Other competitors, such as NetCurrents,
and WebClipping.com [http://www.webclipping.com]
have since entered the market. Capabilities of Web monitoring services
often use state-of-the art technologies to monitor and extract real-time
Web information through automated filtering for improving relevancy. These
services may use artificial intelligence for extracting and delivering
analytical reports quickly. Some even perform searches on traditional sources
like magazines and newspapers, as long as those traditional sources have
new Web versions.
NetCurrents is probably the ultra designer in the field, going steps — or shall I say yards — beyond not only the low-cost services but also direct competitors in what it provides, and with prices to match. In addition to monitoring the Web using proprietary Internet technology and artificial intelligence, which further filters the content, they include analytical Activity Reports. [See a sample at http://www.netcurrents.com/report/sample.html.] NetCurrents asserts that it provides “comprehensive intelligence, qualitative analyses, and counseling.” The Activity Report contains Discussion Statistics and a section called Sentiment Among Online Communities for the company being monitored, including a ranking of positive, neutral, or negative. A sample of the Discussion Statistics below depicts what can appear in that section of a report:
In a preliminary search, NetCurrents located approximately 900 references to OneMain.com on the Internet over the past 30-day period, with approximately 251 messages located on the Yahoo! message boards alone. According to NetCurrents’ internal statistics, the Yahoo! message boards for publicly traded companies usually represent 20 percent of the overall Internet discussion.
A demo with case study at the Web site [http://www.netcurrents.com/demo/index.html] explains how NetCurrents works, rather than demonstrating it in action — which I personally would have found more useful.
There are three major NetCurrents services:
NetCurrents costs $2,500 or more per month for InvestorFacts, $6,995 or more per month for CyperFacts, and $14,995 for CyberPerceptions, the top-of-the-line product that incorporates the works.
Whoever said the Internet was free? We’ve passed the early experimental phase and entered a new developmental cycle. This latest generation of tools for handling the phenomenal terabytes of Web information has given me sticker shock. Nevertheless, some of my colleagues tell me that major corporations will pay the price for the intelligence required. Furthermore, it seems that a new buzzword, “value solution,” is being thrown around, and everyone seems to have one. The concept of a value solution is a new adaptation of the value-add notion.
My husband just commented to me that he’d like to move away to a place where people don’t care about dot-coms, but instead ponder food and wine. If you’re part of the D generation (digital generation), however, you won’t think twice about foodstuffs and libations, but go straight for making your fortune. This is the phenomenon we see now in the wired community.
Rather than let
the high costs of NetCurrents discourage us, let’s look at other products
with a little less shocking prices, albeit without all the same services.
[And don’t forgot the free and low-cost URLs in Table
2.] I’ve extracted this information from Web sites, press releases,
or media kits for the most part. At this point, I have not tested any of
these services personally, nor have I interviewed the companies to clarify
statements. But stay tuned! A future column will present first-hand glimpses
of these services and tests of their claims. From unfortunate experience,
I’ve learned that all too often, vendors tell us about their products’
greatness but time and again, after experimenting, the claims prove to
be mainly hype, especially with companies just starting out and/or newly
developed services. I can’t promise an exact sequel date at the moment,
since we don’t know yet how much these services will open themselves to
scrutiny or reveal the kind of detail that would help us understand their
inner workings, but I’ll try to pursue this and see where it takes me.
And so, without further ado, here are descriptions of some of the major
players I uncovered with pricing information included.
CyberAlert Internet Monitoring
and Alert Service
CyberAlert [http://www.cyberalert.com] describes itself as an Internet monitoring and daily alert service for market intelligence and knowledge management. It claims that its software is a “powerful archiving, text retrieval, knowledge management and data mining system….” that annotates, searches, shares, and tracks citations. CyberAlerts also asserts that its “triple filtering” capability assures greater relevance.
The client can create a complex Boolean search string with multiple keywords or phrases and terms up to 365 characters in length. CyberAlert’s proprietary technology automatically searches the Internet every day to find, “clip,” and report new mentions of the client’s keywords. CyberAlert delivers a daily report containing only new citations found during the previous 24 hours.
over 2,000 Web publications and message boards (forums) and over 63,000
Usenet news groups, as well as comprehensive coverage of commercial, government,
and academic Web sites worldwide. CyberAlert also searches 2 million other
Web sites with over 80 million pages of information, using multiple public
search engines. Cost is $395 per month per search string with no “per clip”
CyberScan Clipping Services
CyberScan [http://www.clippingservice.com] targets communications professionals and tracks issues, products, public opinion, and other information on the Web. Three key services are WebScan, Opinion Monitoring, and Site Tracking. WebScan and Opinion Monitoring services are similar to traditional news and information clipping services that cover newspapers, magazines, and other print publications, except that WebScan covers millions of Web sites, including approximately 1,500 Web-based news sources. It also covers content on news sites indexed by major search engines, specialty news databases and archives, and other online sources. CyberScan includes all major and many smaller online journals and other publications with an online presence. Opinion Monitoring covers Usenet newsgroups, electronic mailing lists, and relevant Web bulletin boards and forums.
CyberScan uses a proprietary search system. A reader screens results and cross-references keywords with the search topic to ensure relevancy. When complete, CyberScan compiles the final results into a report and delivers it to the client via a password-protected Web page on its site. The company claims that it eliminates duplicates and irrelevant information. Reports are provided daily, weekly, or monthly. [See figures 1, 2, 3 on page 31 for a WebScan sample report.] Site Tracking monitors a preselected set of URLs and provides updated reports as relevant changes occur.
Table 3 lists the broad categories currently available, but CyberAlert encourages users to contact the company to discuss topics not on the list. When you go to the site and click on each category you can view a list of available sources.
Rates for CyberScan
Services vary depending on the number of services selected and the frequency
of reports (daily, weekly monthly). Costs run from $200 per month to $1,375
per month with a $1 per clip fee added to the monthly rate for each clip
included in reports. Each service (WebScan, Opinion Monitoring, or Site
Tracking) can be ordered separately, in conjunction with another service,
or as a group of all three. WebScan and Opinion Monitoring services include
one keyword or short phrase (cross-referenced with a search topic if you
choose to have a reader screen results). Site Tracking includes up to three
URLs of your choice. Discounts for ordering multiple services and accounts
PR Newswire recently acquired the pioneer of these Web monitoring services, eWatch [http://www.ewatch.com], from WAVO Corporation. As previously mentioned, eWatch was one of the first companies to monitor the Web and pioneered Internet monitoring by scouring the Web for publications, discussion forums, bulletin boards, and electronic mailing lists. Companies use eWatch to monitor public reputation, rumors, stock manipulation, and insider trading problems. Here are the products:
|Table 3: CYBERAGE
WebClipping.com [http://www.webclipping.com] is an Internet-based monitoring and clipping service that monitors when you, your product, or your service appears anywhere on the Web.
WebClipping currently provides three types of coverage:
The monthly fee for Standard Service is $100 per term and an additional one-time setup fee of $100 per search term. Pricing includes:
As we went to press, I also learned that Powerize.com [http://www.powerize.com, see my detailed analysis of this service in Searcher, March 2000] now offers media monitoring solutions for its clients in which they can commingle external and internal resources. The external information comes from the Powerize collection, which aggregates some 12,000 sources, and through links to Usenet and bulletin boards such as Raging Bull. Development fees depend on client requirements with subscription fees of $250 per month per user. For more information, contact Ed Murphy, senior vice president of Sales, email@example.com.
Amelia Kassel is the president of MarketingBASE Associates. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org