April 2, 2012 11:02 am

YouGov to measure impact of tweets

YouGov is poised to launch a social media marketing service that can better assess the reach and influence of Twitter and Facebook, as higher expansion costs dragged the online research group to a first half pre-tax loss.

In what it described as a world first, the online pollster will this month launch its Social Media Analysis (SOMA) tool that measures how widely a tweet is read and assess its impact on Twitter and Facebook users.

SOMA will collate 5m tweets per day through a panel of 10,000 Twitter users who have allowed YouGov access to observe tweets that they receive. By polling tweet recipients, YouGov can then measure their influence.

“This is the first time that anyone can add objectivity to the social media noise,” Stephan Shakespeare, YouGov chief executive, told the Financial Times. “This measures what was heard and determines the impact of those tweets.

“People and companies want to measure who is hearing the tweet and what its actual influence is, and that’s what we can now do.”

YouGov will broaden the scope of the social media assessment product to Facebook later this year.

The social media tool’s launch comes as Aim-quoted YouGov narrowed its pre-tax loss for the six months to January 31 to £275,000, down from £284,000 reported in the same period a year ago.

The Palo Alto-based group has accelerated its expansion over the past few years, increasing its reach in the US with the purchase of several research companies, including Definitive Insights, which targets the energy and IT sectors.

The expansion caused YouGov to take a £700,000 charge for investment in new products, pushing the group to a loss in spite of interim revenues increasing from £27m to £29.9m year on year. On an underlying basis, operating profit fell from £2.3m to £2.2m.

Earnings per share fell from 3p to zero and there was no dividend, although the group said that it would pay a dividend at its full-year results in October.

YouGov, which is best known for its political polling, said that the launch of SOMA would further boost its credentials in social media research.

“It puts understanding the dynamics of social media at the forefront of what we do,” said Mr Shakespeare. “Political polling only brings in 1 per cent of our profits.”

YouGov is one of a number of media research groups taking advantage of the impact of social media as an advertising and marketing tool.

Last month Havas, the French advertising group, reported that almost one-quarter of its €1.6bn of annual revenues were derived from digital and social media, whilst M&C Saatchi recorded a more than doubling of annual pre-tax profits on the back of stronger mobile advertising and social media marketing services.

Shares in YouGov, which have risen by one-third over the past 12 months, on Monday were flat at 67¾p.

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