So You're an Obsessive-Compulsive Stats-aholic? There's an App for That

The New 'Pro' Version of Buzzworthy Trend-Tracking Service Trendrr Is Total Digital Crack

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My name is Simon Dumenco and I'm a stats addict. Seriously -- it's kind of a problem.

My editor, Ann Marie Kerwin, and I joke (a bit too often for it to be just a joke, I'm afraid) about the crack-like allure of the ever-widening array of metrics we have at our disposal. Here at Advertising Age, not only do we perpetually have our eyes on the AdAge.com "Most Read" and "Most E-mailed" charts, we also have to constantly fight the urge to obsess about the most granular of data points (e.g., who came from where, how long they stayed, what else they clicked on) buried in the Google analytics and beyond (e.g., bit.ly stats are a new fetish of mine).

What Trendrr Can Track: A Sample
To be a media person these days is to constantly struggle with not only knowing too much but knowing what to do once you know too much -- because there's no putting the genie back in the bottle.

Which brings me to Trendrr, a stat-tracking service I briefly covered in this column back when it launched in the spring of 2008. The free service offered a clever, easy way to track web-based metrics in fascinating ways. Since then, you've probably spotted Trendrr-tracked data in the news, particularly in regard to conversations occurring on Twitter. Like, during the peak of the swine-flu panic in April, Trendrr was the source of the widely reported statistic about how there were more than 10,000 posts per hour about swine flu on Twitter. And last week you might have seen coverage of another Trendrr shocker: During one peak hour, there were an astonishing 221,744 tweets that included the hashtag #iranelection.

It's more interesting, though, to see those disembodied stats in the context of a Trendrr chart. (On Thursday, for example, the Twitterverse inevitably lost interest in #iranelection as Michael Jackson's death began to dominate all media conversations. Trendrr has plotted the two Twitter memes against each other here). Because then you can see the peaks and valleys of interest -- in trend lines that are sometimes smooth, sometimes wavy, sometimes EKG-like -- in news events, pop-cultural memes, celebrities, brands, anything. It can be both depressing (how quickly our collective attention span strays from the important stuff) and heartening (like when you can witness an annoying reality-TV star quickly fading into oblivion). The rise and fall can feel primordial, even biblical: ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

On Monday, June 29, Wiredset, the company behind Trendrr, is launching Trendrr Pro in beta. It's a paid service with tiered pricing (starting at $49 per month), and the guys who run Wiredset -- CEO Mark Ghuneim and President Tom Donohue -- gave me an exclusive advance peek and allowed me to poke around in the alpha. It is, I think, the start of something huge -- and a potentially important tool not only for media people but marketing professionals looking to track real-time data on, for starters, the efficacy of campaigns.

The Trendrr Pro pitch is pretty simple: more access to data, and more things you can do with those data. Specifically, the ability to track mentions -- of your own products and projects or those of your competitors -- on blogs, Twitter, Amazon, Craigslist, Google, Google News, Bing, bit.ly, torrents, video sites and more. And then compare and contrast those data, measure them for varied periods of time, mash them up with other data, set up alerts, create reports and so on.

Wiredset, if you're not familiar with it, is a digital agency that's done viral marketing for clients including MTV, Comedy Central, Oxygen, Virgin, Puma, Warner Bros., HarperCollins, Atlantic Records, etc. When the Wiredset crew was still engineering Trendrr Pro, I grabbed drinks with Ghuneim and Donohue near their Meatpacking District offices in Manhattan, and we dorked out -- if we could have spoken in charts and graphs instead of words, we would have -- at a nearby watering hole. As Ghuneim put it, "For me, Trendrr Pro is really about, 'How do I measure the edges?' Because the conversation has moved off the center. Whether it's about politics or bands or brands, that's universal, right?"

Last week he added, "I've heard on many panels over the past year that data is the new creative. I don't know if I'd go that far, but you can do a ton of creative things with good, actionable data."

You can also spend a ton of time poring over data -- good, actionable and otherwise -- as I can testify. By the way, Trendrr, the original service that lacks some of the more robust Trendr Pro tracking and reporting tools, remains free.

And in the meantime, enjoy the pretty data crack atop this page.

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Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco

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