I recently interviewed Lori Weiman, CEO of the online reputation management company The Search Monitor, and tested out her company’s Competitor and Trademark Monitoring tools, which her company announced to have the ability to monitor and segment actual video results across organic search listings, multiple web channels and websites. The main question I wanted answered was:  Is this a good tool for search marketers and reputation management professionals?

About The Search Monitor
the-search-monitorLori’s company monitors both the organic and sponsored search engine listings of all competitors in a market across Google, Yahoo! And MSN’s Bing; along with monitoring blogs and forums, news releases, and Web site landing pages. They also monitor brands, trademarks, and affiliate marketers, and watch for affiliates on the search engines. The program can also setup campaigns to monitor all languages (beyond just English), and even be geo-targeted to a particular region or state (or multiple). Reports can be set up for just a one-time run, or daily, or weekly – and have them emailed to anyone. “Known competitors” can also be added to the reports for automated tracking, and the program can automatically pull up its a customized list of “Hot Competitors” based on your chosen monitored keywords.

How video listings are monitored with The Search Monitor

Lori recently gave me a demo of how their company’s Competitor and Trademark Monitor program can crawl and index video listings, including pages featuring a video player. A setup for video monitoring requires creating a custom report, which is good to have their tech support help you out with.

While I did find The Search Monitor’s user interface could stand improvement (both on the visual design and nomenclature), and both the setup and dashboard likely to appear rather unwieldy to initial users, the Excel reporting is easily manageable for sorting and filtering types of results, including video results. With some proper training and a bit of initial tweaking, The Search Monitor’s Competitor and Trademark Monitor program can be a handy tool for not just for looking out for trademark infringements, but doing keyword research and competitor research on what keywords results are actually featuring video, and how they’re being displayed (since screen real estate is a big part about getting audience attention, clicks and views.)

The advantage for marketers and reputation management professionals with a program like this is you can have reports automatically generated – as frequently as every day if you wish – from the top 3 trafficked search engines, web channels, and even individual websites of your selection – all of which you can organize efficiently. Not only do the reports tell you what video results are showing up for your monitored keywords, but also their rank on a search engine results page (SERP) as well. Custom reports can also be generated to pull keyword data just from a single video sharing site – YouTube included.

Interview with Lori Weiman, CEO of The Search Monitor

As someone who handles a lot of online reputation monitoring and management for many clients, how well would you say video is being monitored compared to other areas?

I think video is actually one of the most under-monitored areas of the web. But as we all know, video is a growing area… If you run a search on Google, a lot of times you’ll notice a video listing will appear… And as we know, television commercials will be distributed through YouTube, spoofs will be made on different videos, and brands really don’t know a lot about what’s happening to them with these videos.

What are your clients asking you about when it comes to online video monitoring?

Our clients want to know what those listings are, and what’s mentioned in those listings. So they’re really benefitting from tracking their brand and trademarks on the Web and Search Engines, and seeing when a video is being distributed about them. Naturally when we monitor the organic side search, we look for videos and distinguish what results are actual videos .

A lot of our clients are trying to find other brand mentions in the video, or look for brand mentions (information) that describes the video. That could be the video title, description, or the URL that the video points to, to see if their re brand is being mentioned somewhere in there.. And we also find that a lot of our clients want to monitor YouTube, so we do that as well. We’ll crawl YouTube, run a search using brand-to-brand phrases, and we find videos that match the clients, and we show the client what’s showing on YouTube.

Video still has certain limitations with monitoring online, compared with straight text results. Until someone can invent a tool to the general business public (that’s at an affordable price level), which can accurately decipher the speech in video and convert it to text, and from that pull out what sounds like any mention of the targeted “keywords,” I would guess companies like yours are going to have quite a challenge.

It is a challenge for us. We do not monitor the audio in the video; We simply find where the video exists online, then we look at the metadata added to the video – including the description of that video, and what URL that video is pointing to.

Is metadata indexing of video sufficient right now for your clients’ expressed needs in a monitoring tool?

Of course, it would be much easier for us if YouTube or Google would index the actual audio of the video. But short of that, we continue to do our job and find better ways for our clients. They just want to know what’s out there, and they have to know these things; because, they want to know if their commercials have been distributed, which can be a good thing; or, it can be a bad thing such as if its a promotion that has just ended, and they don’t really want it out on the market anymore and they just want it taken down. Sometimes they’re spoofs (on their brand) or things being talked about their brand, and they just want to hear what’s going on.

Have you come across any particular videos on any of your clients that have really raised an eyebrow?

We certainly have. Of course we can’t talk about them publicly on what specific examples we find and for specific clients, but there’s certainly a lot out there that needs to be looked at.

What’s the pricing?

TheSearchMonitor.com website features signup packages that start off at $99 a month for 50 keywords, or $399 per month for 200 keywords. However Lori did mention that pricing past the start package may be flexible based on specific keyword amounts or ranges. “So whatever amount of keywords you want us to track for you and monitor, that’s what you pay for; you pay for use.” She says.

Grantastic Tips on monitoring video online…

I leave you with a couple of tips on web video monitoring and management, whether purchasing and using an tool like The Search Monitor’s Competitor and Trademark

Monitor, or doing it manually (albeit much more slowly)…

  • Include the word “video” in your targeted keyword searches. Many searches today are showing higher rates of searches with the word “video” in them.
  • Compare video results between keywords searches both with “video” added, and without. This will give you a good comparative study on what keyword groups are more likely to be inclusive of video in their blended (or, “universal”) search results.
  • Find your online competitors. Check out which companies, brands and/or Websites have video in your targeted keywords, and are actively optimizing around those keywords. It’s a good opportunity to see what they’re doing right that you can emulate, or what they may be doing that’s search engine spam or trademark infringement (which you can report or take other action on).