Monster growth area: corporate blog search

Stephen Baker

We've seen more than once how it can hurt companies to turn a deaf ear to the blogs. Dell is just the latest example. The business question now: Who makes the money combing through the blogs for the world's companies? I made calls yesterday, and believe me, a nascent market is heating up. The goal is to provide a dashboard that shows each company what is being said about it, its products, competitors, etc. Think of heat maps for each hot-button issue, different colors for positive or negative. Click on them and you find the blogs or articles cited.

A couple of the players:
LexisNexis has been teamed up for a year with Web analytics company Biz360. It's a match of a vast media database with a Web sniffing and analysing machine. They're announcing the next step of the relationship on Monday. And in September they're extending the service to monitor 12 million blogs.

Factiva, the Dow Jones-Reuters joint venture, launched its blog-monitoring service in July. It covers 4 million blogs. Unlike the Biz360 service, it does not sort the coverage by positive and negative. I took a test drive, which I'll report on later.

These systems will grow to be immensely important to corporations, nothing less than their windows onto the world. Blog companies from Umbria Communications to Technorati are focusing on this market. Steve Rubel predicts that these monitoring systems will eventually be bundled into customer relationship management software. This means companies like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft will be featuring them. And since the essense of these systems is search, isn't it a natural for Google?

Long story short: Corporate blog and media search will be a busy intersection in coming years. Lots of development, conflicts, alliances, and M&A.