During this year's World Cup, social-media-measurement firms
have been especially busy, producing a wide variety of visual
content. For example, the data measurement and analysis company
Crimson Hexagon has already produced a big, splashy look at how
much marketers are spending at the World Cup (which it produced in
partnership with digital-marketing platform Offerpop); a quick-hit
visual breakdown of match predictions that a staffer whipped up in
three hours; and some smaller graphs embedded in a larger blog
post, also produced by a Crimson Hexagon staff member.
"We are pumping out a lot of World Cup analysis," said Elizabeth
Breese, a senior content and marketing strategist at Crimson
Crimson Hexagon is not alone. Adobe published a series of charts and
infographics about sentiment and brands on its own microsite, the
Adobe Digital Index; the social-media-monitoring firm Tracx is
building an infographic report tracking the social-media gains of
the top World Cup and FIFA sponsors; Sysomos built an interactive dashboard that
shows real-time global Twitter activity related to the World Cup;
Brandwatch, in partnership with the Brazilian think tank FGV, built
an interactive visualization identifying a team's most influential
fans on Twitter that's updated multiple times a day.
Marketing and PR staff at these firms all told Ad Age their
visualizations are designed to build brand awareness, and some are
trying harder than others to garner earned media attention with
Crimson Hexagon's infographic has run a number of places,
including Social Media Today and PC Mag; Digiday wrote an entire
feature about Brandwatch's visualization; UK media and marketing
site The Drum published Adobe's infographics.
Yet as this practice has become more popular, publishers'
skepticism of infographics and other visualizations has grown.
"It used to be you could source a bunch of facts from Wikipedia,
put 'em in some graphics, and it would make the front page of
Digg," said Lee Sherman, the chief content officer of infographics
That's not quite the case anymore. "The bar has risen in terms
of the quality you have to produce," Sherman said.
"I personally haven't published one all year," Wasserman said.
"I'm not a huge fan since they're often so nakedly
In response, some firms are dedicating more resources and more
energy to making more sophisticated visual content. Chas Cooper,
executive director of marketing at Meltwater, a company that offers
online media-monitoring tools, said in an email that this year his
company plans to spend more than four times the amount it spent
creating visual content the year before.
Part of that included hiring the firm's first full-time
designer. "Visual content is strategically important for all of our
branding efforts," Mr. Cooper said.
It's tough to calculate exactly how much more visual content
these firms are putting out, but evidence of an increase is strewn
across editors' inboxes. A search through Mr. Wasserman's inbox
reveals that the number of infographics he's been pitched this
month is up more than 30% from the same period last year. Other
publications have noticed an uptick as well. "I've definitely seen
a surge," said Patrick Coffee, a senior editor at Mediabistro.
As the web continues to grow more social and more visual, this
trend looks likely to continue. Yet what's missing from this shift,
so far at least, is a measurement of how effective visualizations
are at getting a brand's name out there.
"We haven't started measuring the impact on brand awareness in a
way that I can quantify easily for you," Mr. Cooper wrote.