TrendKite Aims To Lift PR measurement and reporting ROI
Loyal readers of this column are all too familiar with my relentless search for the holy grail of public relations and social media monitoring, measurement, and reporting tools – a single solution that excels in all of these areas or, alternatively, a small handful of tools that play nicely together without obliterating the marketing budget.
Sadly, this quest is often akin to assembling a jigsaw puzzle where most of the pieces are included, but you end up with some doubles, and that one nettlesome piece that doesn’t quite fit but you try and jam it into the lone open spot anyway. Over the past few years, larger players in the PR/social media management and monitoring space have made solid strides to simplify the user experience and build out an extensive database of media contacts, but innovation has been ploddingly incremental, opening the door for upstarts.
These frustrations motivated TrendKite co-founder AJ Bruno to launch the PR software firm in October 2012. AJ cut his teeth at Meltwater as Director of Sales for five years, and recognized there was an opportunity – and need – to help PR professionals evolve beyond “vanity metrics” to more effectively measure the ROI of public relations and marketing activities. Since its launch, the market has responded favorably to TrendKite’s cloud-based platform: the firm secured a $3.2 million Series A funding round in June 2014, led by Mercury Fund and Silverton Partners. TrendKite, based in Austin, Texas, has grown revenues 100 percent every month for the past six months and counts several industry-leading organizations as customers, including, Campbell’s Soup, Pinterest and Sephora.
I spent several days testing out TrendKite’s platform, and found it to be highly intuitive and one of the most interactive on the market. TrendKite’s platform consists of two primary elements, an interactive dashboard and interactive report.
For purposes of the trial, I used the online car service Uber as my hypothetical client. Creating a dashboard is a five-step process that takes only a few minutes as the step-by-step guide prompts the user to input the brand(s) to track using Boolean search, and then a number of filtering options so that, if desired, media mentions can exclude items such as financial news or press releases.
Once the dashboard is created, every component is interactive, meaning that the user can gain more detailed data by clicking on several customizable charts, including share of voice relative to competitors or by keyword phrases, brand mentions by geographic location, brand mentions by date (going back as far as January 2013), top stories, key messages, and ad equivalency value.
TrendKite pulls media results from 355,000 unique sources (a source list of traditional media and blogs that is expanding every week), and the results are built to focus on in-depth analytics – not just media mentions – so that users can interact with data and extract “moment in time” analytics. This is not a social media monitoring tool however, and the results do not pull from tweets or other social postings. The sources are global, though Bruno acknowledges that the international capability is relatively new.
The Share of Voice tool includes capabilities that extend beyond others I have tested. The pie chart shows percent of coverage for each brand for a selected period of time, and by clicking on either your client/employer brand or competitor brands within the pie opens up individual articles that can be fully viewed. Share of Voice can be viewed in a linear fashion, allowing the brand to see if a particularly opportunity was missed that competitors were able to take better advantage of. TrendKite also enables the user to custom add articles that may not be listed in the coverage results.
A handful of PR measurement and reporting tools have built decent interactive dashboards, but continue to generate static reports that, at the end of the day, restrict the extent to which clients and superiors can interact with data. A key differentiator for TrendKite is that the interactive report provides the ability to take data and customize it once it is received. Clients and others throughout your organization receive a web link that opens up the report as an interactive HTML that includes the dashboard element results for share of voice, mentions by location, etc. Before sending a web link to desired recipients, users can add their own custom slides to the report.
For a sense of where the platform is headed, Bruno eyes making deeper Google analytics-type insights available to clients, whereby the dashboard can help users better understand conversions, web traffic, and the social shelf life of articles as they get re-tweeted, liked and shared. Bruno is quick to point out that TrendKite will not become a social media listening tool like Radian6 and SproutSocial, and instead views itself as an “attribution platform” with the ability to take a piece of coverage in any point in time and see what drove its impact.
There are currently two TrendKite pricing models: agency and brand. For PR/marketing agencies, there is a two-client minimum for the platform, and that annual cost is in the mid four-figure range. Each additional client is a separate, add-on cost. There is no limit on the number of dashboards or reports an agency can build for each client. For brands, the annual cost is in the low five-figures annually, which includes unlimited dashboards and five seats (i.e. – log-ins).
TrendKite has built a robust, dynamic cloud-based platform for PR measurement and reporting. The decision for agencies and brands – given the price points of these types of tools – is how to mix and match requirements for a media database, social media monitoring and PR measurement and reporting within respective budget realities.