"More and more people are conversing with each other on social networks and blogs," said Randall McAdory, manager-business intelligence at Chrysler Group. "We want to know what they are saying about us."
Brandimensions is not only responsible for monitoring digital mentions of Chrysler Group's Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge brands, but is now involved on a strategic decision-making level. "We're helping them validate specific marketing initiatives," said Brandimensions' CEO, Bradley Silver.
While declining to reveal specific findings, Mr. McAdory said the consultant found a "boatload of web discussions" and vehicle comparisons by consumers in early January immediately after Chrysler Group unveiled the '06 model of its classic Challenger muscle car and General Motors Corp. took the wraps off its new Camaro.
Taking the Web's excess of consumer-generated media as a chance to learn about consumers, companies in a variety of industries such as automotive, entertainment and pharmaceutical are investing in online buzz-tracking tools.
"The power shift from media institutions to consumer communities means that marketers must track a diverse and growing range of influential voices," wrote Forrester analyst Peter Kim in last month's "Brand Monitoring, Q3 2006" report.
In the report, Nielsen BuzzMetrics and Cymfony were singled out as "market Leaders." (BuzzMetrics was formed earlier this year when Nielsen acquired a majority stake in the recently merged BuzzMetrics and Intelliseek.) Forrester, meanwhile, placed Brandimensions in the lesser "contender" category.
Online resources such as Technorati, Google Alerts and IceRocket allow individuals and small businesses to track relevant buzz, but more sophisticated services such as Brandimensions combine proprietary technology, which monitors billions of web pages and millions of websites, with human oversight.
Rather than look at keywords, Brandimensions ranks, orders and categorizes information based on about 200 material attributes from color and speed as well as emotional attributes such as identity and image.
"We can analyze loyalty," Mr. Silver said.
"We isolate brand owners and see what they're saying about it, and whether they defend the brand when it's criticized," said Randy Sears, the firm's VP-automotive market intelligence.
The insights gleaned are then used by various groups within Chrysler, including business intelligence, brand, interactive and advertising, to determine whether product messaging resonates with the target audience.