Given the hugely positive reception at AdWeek New York to LookingGlass, we wanted to keep the conversation going here on the Microsoft Advertising Blog. So I caught up with Cindy Chiu who is the Incubation Product manager for the project and asked a few questions on how it had all been going:
It’s nearly been 90 days since AdWeek. What’s been the response to LookingGlass?
Marketers are very intrigued by LookingGlass’ deep workflow capability to make social media data actionable and by its platform nature, allowing integration of various systems and data (e.g., online ad spend, offline ad spend, call center, POS, CRM) to build deeper consumer insights. Agencies are eager to engage with their clients and Microsoft to jointly experiment and bring LookingGlass to the next level. We have conducted beta demos with various major marketers and agencies, and are in the process of discussing and/or finalizing the pilot program arrangements.
When you are talking to agencies, what is it they like about the platform versus other offerings out there in the market place?
The “holy grail” everyone wants to get to is to have one holistic consumer insight tool. While most of the current tools start to get a good handle on the “Listening” capability (ability to know what consumers are talking about your company, brand, products, and your competitors’), they are at the initial phase to develop the “Engaging” (ability to respond to select consumer posts and to proactively launch a word-of-mouth campaign) and the “Analyzing” capability (ability to synthesize insights out of the ocean of consumer posts and to bring multiple consumer insight systems together).
To that end, LookingGlass’ vision is not to be just a social media tool, but to be an all-up media analytics and consumer insight tool – social media data is one pillar of the tool, online ad effectiveness - Atlas, rich media etc - is the other, and offline ad spend and other sources of consumer insights/behaviors - call center and point-of-sale - are all different pillars that would compose the ultimate consumer insight tool.
Agencies are excited about our efforts to help push this forward using our strong background in technology, and it’s important we partner with them to develop business insights together with other marketers.
Can you give an example of how beta users are using LookingGlass to leverage conversations out there on the web to help them with their marketing?
Three types of teams usually use LookingGlass: Marketing, PR, and Customer Support.
Marketing teams use LookingGlass to track campaign effectiveness and to understand consumers’ latent demand/pain points to stimulate ideas for new product development. One user of LookingGlass was able to identify the popularity of their new ad campaign and its characters and made the decision to continue the campaign series based on the strong positive consumer responses they observed. PR teams use this type of tool to understand what’s being said about their company’s brand so they can act quickly on good news as well as bad. Customer Support teams use these types of tools to identify product issues and proactively push out solutions on cost-effective channels like the web and auto-reply in the call centers. They also use LookingGlass to engage with consumers in a real-time fashion.
What technologies are behind LookingGlass?
LookingGlass uses Silverlight technology and a Web Server to display the user interface, a Content Acquisition Server as the interface with third-party social networking sites to retrieve data using publicly available APIs, and SQL server to store data.
Our platform approach provides a mechanism to support both go-to-market partners today and an evolving set of third-parties in future. The sentiment engine was created by Microsoft Research (MSR) and is based on a “machine-learned” model so it doesn’t use any manually created rules or heuristics. It also does not use linguistic processing (which is very hard on noisy data). From an implementation perspective, we will engage an external SI (system integrator) to help with the deployment, training, and support. The estimated time is a one-day pre-installation training, one-day installation, and one-day post-installation training.
Can you give any insight into the product road map and when it might be on general release?
We are devoting 2010 calendar year as our one-year incubation period. We will open up 50 slots with select marketers and agencies during incubation starting in the US. Agencies will get access to LookingGlass when they help enrol their clients into the pilot program. The current plan is to have the general release around end of 2010 or beginning of 2011, but that is still under discussion/finalization.
We’ve put this 2 minute video together which takes some elements of it’s unveiling in New York, and Stephen Kim’s demo, which should give readers additional insight into LookingGlass’ capabilities.