What is the current status of Internet monitoring? What are the various practices employed by companies? Did Internet monitoring progress over the years? I wanted to understand how Internet monitoring evolved by interviewing my colleague Aurélien Blaha at Digimind‘s premises. In this interview, Aurélien has given me an account of the different periods from the early days of the Web and social media until today. It was quite a broad retrospect of the activities since the last year, when his Grenoble-based multinational celebrated its 20th anniversary. In conclusion, I would like to say one thing: Internet monitoring is good, but you have to learn to listen better to your customers. Here is a summary of my interview with Aurélien.
First period of Internet monitoring: 1998*-2008
At that time, we were not talking about the social Web, rather, it was the beginning of the Web itself. Shortly after its creation by Tim Berners Lee, the Web was very challenging for most businesses: finding relevant information where too little was available. This situation lasted for about a decade.
2008-2018: finding a diamond in a coal mine
On the other hand, this period is marked by a plethora of information, thanks to a whole bunch of companies being founded in the middle of the last decade: Facebook in 2004, YouTube in 2006 and so on. The period 2008-2018 generated an overabundance of information. However, the earlier mission remained the same, i.e., to find relevant information.
This period was the golden age of social media listening: it was about finding a diamond in a coal mine.
2018-2028: A new era of Internet monitoring
2018 has sounded the bell for a new era, the third one, and that of the current decade.
2018 was a crucial period, as we are now entering a new era of monitoring. As a result of abuses such as Cambridge Analytica’s, there has been a certain discomfort around the advent of GDPR which has clarified a number of things about the limits to be set in terms of the use of personal data.
Although this fatigue is noticeable in Europe, the situation is quite different in the rest of the world. When you look at the top 10 countries that use Facebook, there is obviously the United States, but the other nine are Latin American, Asian or African countries.
New age: Artificial Intelligence powering Internet Monitoring
Beyond the marketing fluff, the first thing worthy of note is the importance of artificial intelligence. This technology will enable us to manage the flow of information, and its application will continue to grow despite all the current issues.
Above all, information will have to be dealt with in a smarter and finer way according to the real expectations of B2B or B2C customers.
We cannot have thousands of marketers managing personalised campaigns for each and every consumer. So, the only way to overcome this problem is to effectively use artificial intelligence, which will be able to adapt one message according to several expectations.
Better listening to consumers and learning from them with Internet monitoring
What do companies learn from what they listen to? We can listen very well to what consumers are saying about our products or competitors or market trends and stop there. The real question is what to do with it.
This is really the crux of the matter. Looking through the lens of this perspective, today’s companies still have a long way to go. Their communications are still based on what they imagine about a consumer’s wishes and not necessarily his/her actual expectations.
Back to basics: traditional sources of information can help businesses
The social and conversational dimension of the Web makes it possible to capture customer expressions that leave their mark on social media. In addition to that, other sources could be potentially used.
There are, in particular, all the more traditional sources that are not in the field of social media such as news, blogs and forums. These could be leveraged through paid access to public sources or even private databases. We even have partners covering Dark Web and Deep Web on more critical topics. It is this set of sources that makes a really complete monitoring.
Focus on the Dark Web
There is a whole range of applications around the Dark Web that is interesting, especially in B2C where companies tackle counterfeiting. When we talk about this subject, we immediately think of luxury products, but it could be drugs or other commodities too.
To quote an example, sensitive subjects in the field of banking and insurance as well as the dismantling of fraud networks could also be addressed.
Since the beginning, the best and the worst are intertwined on the Web
For me, since the beginning of the Web, the best and the worst have coexisted. I believe it is analogous to human nature. We have to live with it and just try to focus on the good things the Web offers, which will hopefully increase, and whose uses are still underestimated for the coming decade.