Why Google Alerts Are Important For Brands And Industries

Kenny Rogers sang a song written by Don Schlitz called “The Gambler”.

The chorus goes as follows:

You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when youre sittin at the table.
Therell be time enough for countin when the dealins done.

The big dilemma for the content industry is what is expressed in those immortal words…

When do you hold and when do you fold, and when do you run?

I was thinking about these recent experiences that I have had with customer service. First with Telstra, and then with Sultry Sally.

Two companies that are actually pretty much on the ball when it comes to customer service – but apparently, more particularly if you blog about them! Telstra – you can understand. It has lots of resources and it is acutely aware of the power of the Internet. But Sultry Sally…? That's is interesting isn't it? Well, perhaps not. The guy who responded to my rant about the chip company and who also sent me an email turns out to be Tim Pethick, a serial entrepreneur who I first met when he was running Encyclopedia Britannica and building it into an online play. Since then he has had several successful businesses. He is clearly using Google Alerts or some other similar tool to monitor blog discussions about his product. As does Telstra.

I wonder how many other companies are starting to do this…

I use Google Alerts to monitor discussions about products where my clients have an interest in a particular field. (At the moment one of the search terms I look at is “graphene” because a client is involved in research and manufacturing of this extremely novel and versatile material).

And monitoring the use of a word can be a really useful way of checking how memes start and how they build.

This memetic approach should also be able to provide an early warning system that will tell you what is going to be “hot” next.

For instance, Tom has been researching, and very successfully, how to build a prediction engine that will enable accurate prediction as to what is going to be the number one record a number of weeks ahead of the event. This has meant establishing what to monitor and how to create an algorithmic approach to the information that is gleaned along the way. But it works.

We think that this approach could also be used to predict what TV program is going to be successful and what movies are going to do well at the box office. It actually IS rocket science but it is pretty interesting.

To get back to the original point though – you have to know when to hold, and you have to know when to fold.

Of all the segments of the content industry that should know about this stuff, you would think that the music business would, since they brought Kenny Rogers and the immortal lyrics of Don Schlitz to the marketplace. Do they?

I wonder…

Sometimes I think that the music industry has collectively rammed its head up its backside so far that it would take Archimedes to lever it out. However, I also wonder whether at the very very top of the industry they realize that (as Sherlock Holmes would have said to Watson) “the jig is up”.

I wonder whether the whole resurgence of greed based capitalism in industry (and the music biz is not alone in this) is because the guys at the top are absolutely pessimistic about the chances of their industries surviving. So instead of trying to figure out a way to create a sustainable business, they are going at it in exactly the wrong way – basically trying to bet their stash against the house with more and more at stake every time they spin the wheel.

And all the while they feel in their hearts that they need to keep on spinning that wheel and getting as much money off the table as possible before the Internet totally socializes the distribution of content with the business model of choice being “everything for nothing”.

The amazing thing is that it doesn't have to be the end. If they followed good ole Kenny's wisdom they would know that they just have to remember what to throw away and what to keep…

evry gambler knows that the secret to survivin
Is knowin what to throw away and knowing what to keep.

What they should be working on is building value in the back catalogue. That is where the art is and the talent is. And for the most part the contracts that govern that stuff date back to before the unions got smart and negotiated deals that are hard for the studios to wriggle out of.

The back catalogue has heaps of potential to have ads inserted or wrapped around the content, for innovative subscription deals to be introduced. It is a green field…

I wonder if any of the content companies are monitoring blogs through Google Alerts, like Tim Pethick is…

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