Startup rates people's online clout

Sep 24, 2009
File photo of people enjoying online services at an internet shop in downtown Hanoi. A pair of French entrepreneurs has come up with a way to identify people whose Internet comments carry weight. Traackr uses algorithms that scour the Web for blogs, videos, tweets or other user-posted material related to selected subjects and then track down authors.

A pair of French entrepreneurs has come up with a way to identify people whose Internet comments carry weight.

Pierre-Loic Assayag and David Chancogne launched an online Traackr Authority List at a DEMO emerging technology conference that ended Wednesday in California.

"We think the future of the is about people, not technology, and knowing who has clout," Assayag said.

Traackr uses algorithms that scour the Web for blogs, videos, tweets or other user-posted material related to selected subjects and then track down authors.

The formula evaluates how many people check out the blogs, Twitter posts, YouTube videos and other content, then factors in how widely the opinions "resonate" in ways, such as being "re-tweeted" or linked to other websites.

Resulting lists rank online voices according to how influential they are in the context of given topics.

"The ultimate vision is this market quest for influence," Chancogne told AFP.

"You have people who are bloggers, and a lot of them want to know how well they are doing. We can tell them their scores."

Traackr is aimed at marketers or businesses that want to spread messages effectively as people move increasingly online and away from traditional print, radio and television advertising.

"The new world is an earned media world," Traackr vice president of business development Derek Skaletsky said while demonstrating the technology.

"You have to get the right people to talk about you."

The US-based startup hopes to make money from companies and marketers eager to connect with influential online personalities.

Traackr could eventually rate the influence of those using the Internet as a stage for their viewpoints.

Assigning general online authority scores is unrealistic because people's authority varies depending on their expertise regarding subjects at issue, Chancogne cautioned.

"How credible you are depends on which community you are in," he said. "It is a flexible, malleable thing. If you have the right crowd and the right person to talk to, you are in business."

The startup boasts of helping Honda stage a stellar launch for its Insight hybrid car in Britain earlier this year despite a tight advertising budget. It connected the Japanese car maker with respected as online authorities in alternate energy and "green" issues.

"In the long term, marketing could be person to person," Chancogne said. "Nano-marketing. At the end of the day, the people matter. The score is just a way to find who they are."

(c) 2009 AFP

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