Excuse the pun but I recently came across a paper co-written by some IBM and Google researchers on the connection between blogging and the sales of products. The paper was written back in 2005 so is not new but it is one of only a few papers I’ve ever seen that have tried to draw a clear link between the impact of blogs on the sales of companies. The good news for bloggers is that there appears to be a connection. At least there was when it was written. While rather academic it is worth a read.
If you want to know whether Tony Blair has been in the news as much as George Bush, or Apple Computer versus WalMart then Google Trends can give you a pretty quick answer. For many PR execs wanting to know if their client is making as much noise as its rivals this tool will be very helpful – assuming their client is big enough to make a decent amount of noise. I recently saw this tool used to express a client’s ‘noise level’ versus other big companies and while it doesn’t allow you to dig very deep it is nevertheless useful. Right now most searches simply track the volume of searches for each item but for some the results also show News Reference Volume. For example, search Google versus YouTube and you will see what I mean. I can only assume that in time Google will make this technology more powerful and useful, much as they have with Google Maps. Watch out media measurement businesses, Google has come to town…
Oh and if you search on PR versus advertising, it looks like PR is slowly catching the old dog.
This survey interested me, mostly because the Council is usually a great mouthpiece for the bigger agencies in our industry. Yet the survey they released this week says that the real growth in the US agency business is set to come in the agencies below $4m in billings. These firms, the surveys says, are expecting to grow at nearly 20% this year, whereas average growth (presumably including the small high growth firms) is likely to be around 14%. If we take out the small firms that suggests the bigger firms are probably forecasting growth of around 10% which is still not bad. Now I know the law of big numbers would suggest that larger agencies may find it harder to grow at high rates but I wonder if this survey is telling us another story. In my mind there are several possibilities. First it could be that small agencies are soaking up the demand from all the small clients that big agencies don’t want. This would make sense, especially if the economic data suggested it was the small businesses in America that are generating the real economic growth. But that last point doesn’t seem entirely plausible given the numbers that have been put out by major energy, retail and tech companies lately. The second possibility is that clients are less excited by the big agencies. This seems possible but would not seems to match our Group’s experience where the largest of our firms is seeing a very full new business pipeline. My last theory is that the market is simply very tight and this actually means that only those businesses that have people to do the work can get hired. The large agencies are quite happy to grow at a decent pace and hire accordingly. Smaller agencies are often happy to take the growth when it’s there and given the labor laws in the US this means they can hire freely knowing that if things go against them they can relatively easily cut back, especially as smaller firms. Whatever, the real reason is it is great to see the industry so optimistic about its future.