YouGov acts to make sense out of social networks but takes a hit to profits

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POLLING firm YouGov is to roll out a new service that will help companies make sense of the “noise” generated on social networking sites such as Twitter.

The pollster already has a panel of 426,000 people that it uses for its UK market research but it will soon start tracking their tweets and other input to social media to help brands and companies to build a clearer picture of what is being said about them online.

The data will be relayed in real-time which means it will be quicker than the traditional method of getting feedback by asking people questions .

It will include monitoring of the Facebook social media site, which can be hard for companies to keep tabs on.

But YouGov said its investment in this and other new products and overseas expansion had caused underlying profits to fall nine per cent to £2m in the six months to January 31.

This was despite a 21 per cent growth in UK revenues, where its recently-launched online SixthSense reports business doubled in size. It worked with clients such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Peugeot and Superdrug.

The company said: “The explosive rise of social media and networks has itself become a trending topic that concerns most organisations or businesses interested in public opinion.

“YouGov has been working on two problems not successfully addressed by currently available social media measuring tools – how to obtain robust and actionable data with which to assess significance of the noise, and how to effectively include Facebook, not just Twitter.”

Other products which are due be launched this month include a study that tracks demand for internet-enabled televisions, attitudes towards them and how they are used.

And it will launch a new “dashboard” service, which collates all up-to-date information into one package. In the UK, it said the squeeze hitting the retail sector had hurt some of its clients and slowed its growth.

The group’s total revenues increased 11 per cent to £29.9m, which was helped by strong growth in the United States and in the Nordic countries.