On their blog Going Social Now, ad agency Razorfish just announced that they have filed a patent on measuring social media.
Forrester Analyst Jeremiah Owyang added his own subtle commentary when he tweeted about the announcement, stating it was “in true Microsoft style.”
So what are they looking to patent? In the post, Shiv Singh introduces “The Razorfish Incrementing Action Tag Solution”.
This is intended to answer three key questions:
- What is the value of a key influencer?
- How viral or how many generations of influence has my social media application achieved?
- What is the value of someone who receives a social application from a friend versus someone who receives it via media or a paid seeding strategy?
The premise is that this tag solution will be embedded in social media applications to offer information on how the application was acquired.
A few initial thoughts. First off, for this to be useful, a client has to ensure that the application supports this tagging. So a client would need to (assumedly) be aware of this need, engage with Razorfish, and then find a social media application that supports this tagging solution. They then would need to understand the significance of this information to be able to respond to the findings.
The challenge of measuring reach and influence isn’t only something Razorfish has thought about. This is why I have recommended clients use a ‘widget distribution network’ like clearspring or widgetbox. Both of these services offer the ability for clients to track the dissemination of their widget, as well as the click-through rate of specific implementations.
The Razorfish announcement is a good one, as it may draw attention to the need for measuring influence and information dissemination. But is an agency really the ones to come forward with this? They now need to identify some critical development partners to really see this work. As it is, we already have services like Clearspring offering these services as part of their core offering.
I’ll be interested to see what is deemed actually patentable, and if it really can come to fruition. Razorfish has some tremendous thought leaders (their white paper on Search Optimized Flash Architecture really helped to draw attention to a significant challenge in Interactive marketing, and offer a possible solution). I am just not sure if attempting to patent an idea that relies heavily on significant partnerships is the best way to tackle this. After all, this IS social media. We’re supposed to believe that solutions reached through collaboration and shared intellectual property will lead to the best overall solution.