Tracking buzz – how hard is it?

On TechCrunch, Duncan Riley reports that PR Newswire and Umbria are teaming up to offer a product called “MediaSense Blog Measurement” that will track the spread of a message across the blogosphere. A couple of years ago, I blogged about the $100,000 IBM software solution that “enables businesses to make sense of the explosion of information from emerging social networks on the Web to deliver new insight into brand reputation and customer, competitor and public opinion about their company.”

Today, Duncan asks the following question about the new “MediaSense Blog Measurement” product:

“How difficult is it to set up feeds from services such as Google News, Yahoo News and Topix which deliver results based on corporate brand names? Isn’t the whole point of engaging with and participating in a Web 2.0 world one to one communications, removing the middle tier of information dissemination? Having said that, if you’ve got a full corporate expense account and prefer your information spoon fed, then these sorts of blog tracking services are ideal.

When I blogged about the IBM product, I raised a similar issue: “Of course, they could set up some RSS feeds deliverying a range of blog-search hacks, but that would be neither cheap nor obvious. And always remember: Big marketers don’t like cheap, obvious answers.”