Software takes teen Pulse in secret; Marketers' program eavesdrops on web

Greetings!  I’m Nico Trimoff, manager of transcription and accessibility services at
Today, I have a very concerning article to share with you; one that teens and their parents should be taking note of.
I invite you to read on and I wish you a great day.
Software takes teen Pulse in secret; Marketers’ program eavesdrops on web

It’s a marketer’s dream and a teen’s worst nightmare.
Shannon Proudfoot
Edmonton Journal, July 6, 2009
Pulse is a new software engine that crawls through blogs, forums and instant
messages to eavesdrop on teen conversations online, providing marketers,
movie studios and even politicians with detailed, instant insight into the
buzz about their products and competitors.
“Because we’re tracking it in real-time, we pick up on the conversational
trend-lines and edginess with what the kids are talking about,” said Jeffrey
Greene, CEO of parent company Echometrix.
The company, based on Long Island in New York state, started FamilySafe, an
Internet security program that monitored and analyzed everything a child did
online and sent his or her parents a text message alert about anything
alarming, Greene said.
Pulse launched June 29, and while other companies do similar social media
monitoring, it claims to be the first real-time web tool focused on a teen
Pulse listens in on 180 teen blogs and forums, Greene said, as well as the
instant-message conversations of about 150,000 teens — including some
parents have installed the company’s FamilySafe software.
“We never know who’s talking,” he said. “We don’t even know their e-mail
addresses, so everybody is anonymous, except that we know from those who
care to tell us whether they’re male or female and what their ages are.”
Services like Pulse are in huge demand because they provide nearly instant
feedback in a swiftly changing media environment, Greene said, and
results are much more accurate than traditional market research.
“Teens are so clever that people who attempt to do research in the teen
marketplace often tell us that teens ‘game the system,’ ” he said. “When
teens participate in an online poll or a focus group, they know or think
they know what answer we want to hear, so that’s the answer they provide.”
The company said Pulse predicted Kris Allen’s surprise American Idol victory
before the results were announced in May. Teens talk about iPods 13 times
more than the Zune MP3 player, the program reveals, and the iPhone gets four
times more buzz than the BlackBerry.
Sarah Thuswaldner, a 17-year-old student in Ottawa, said she can see why
marketers would think it is a good idea, but it could easily backfire.
Some young people expose too much online, she said, but anyone would avoid a
website they knew was being monitored by software like this.
“No one wants to be spied on, and no one is going to trust a company that
they think is spying on them.”
What’s more, Thuswaldner said, marketing executives would be making a big
mistake to take online chatter too seriously. The Internet is a place of
“throwaway opinions” and fringe points of view, she said, and anyone who
read too much into the catchphrases, inside jokes and niche interests that
live there would end up with bizarre results.
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About Donna Jodhan

Donna Jodhan is an award winning blind author, advocate, sight loss coach, blogger, podcast commentator, and accessibility specialist.
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