Tracking Buzz in Real Time

Media Morph: Summize Lets You Search Online Chatter About Brands

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NEW YORK ( -- Every week Ad Age Digital's Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: Summize.

Summize screen grab
WHAT IT IS: Summize tracks and aggregates conversations flowing through Twitter and its competitors, such as FriendFeed and Plurk, letting you search to see who's talking about what and to whom. And because it's integrated with Twitter, some are using it as a substitute to reply to messages during Twitter's frequent outages.

HOW IT WORKS: Enter a keyword or phrase in the search box and see what Twitterers are saying about it. Use the advanced-search function to set up more sophisticated filtering, such as by geography or person referenced. Better yet, set up an RSS feed for that query to be alerted every time the keyword or phrase crops up on Twitter.

THE REAL VALUE FOR MARKETERS: Love it or hate it, there's a conversation happening on Twitter. And this tool makes it easy to listen as people complain about -- or praise -- your brand. Astute Web 2.0 watchers may recall a scenario this spring when TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington complained about his Comcast internet outage on Twitter. He got a call from the cable company within 20 minutes of his first post. Twitter, Mr. Arrington wrote , is becoming an "excellent early warning system to flag possible brand implosions."

WHO'S BEHIND IT: CEO Jay Virdy is an AOL search vet who incorporated the company in 2006 thinking it would be a meta consumer-review site, doing sentiment analysis on reviews. He later zeroed in on Twitter and its ilk.

THE BUSINESS MODEL: None yet, but Mr. Virdy said he believes it will involve search-based advertising.

WHAT'S COMING: One Summize feature soon to be introduced automatically refreshes search results when more information about a query is available. Customers had been Twittering for it, said Mr. Virdy, who added that the company takes its own medicine: "We're glued to what people are saying about us."
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