First a quick thanks to all of you who visited the blog yesterday.  Our blog traffic exploded yesterday, which means I'll be writing here frequently. :-)

Today, I thought I'd talk about where we got the idea for Polygraph and the feedback we heard from the marketplace in the 9 months preceding our launch.

As some of you may know, our company's origins came from the couponing world.  Our first product was a couponing system that businesses could use to publish coupons on the Web, Facebook, Twitter, and to e-mail lists.  We built this as a DIY system for local businesses and brands, and as such talked with a bunch of customers.

The feedback we got was that couponing really needed to be conditional for businesses to get really fired up about it.  Businesses pay significant $$ for new customers, but treat existing customers as people from which the ARPU (average revenue per user) must be raised.  So if you offer say a 20% coupon to anyone who would take it, the business might get some new customers but it is much more likely to be giving a discount to the very people who will be a customer anyway. 

Businesses market to existing customers differently than they market to new customers, and so if couponing is going to deliver a real ROI, as a tactic it has to become "intelligent".  (Incidentally, I think this is a problem that Groupon and LivingSocial have today.)

So we went back to the drawing board and asked "are there any ways for us to get an idea of if someone is a customer?"  And we turned to Facebook and said "well, Facebook Pages might be an interesting proxy for loyalty."  If someone is associated with a Facebook Page, they are probably a customer of that business in some way.  And hence, Polygraph was born.

We took our core technology to brands and agencies, and surprisingly (to us at least) heard a number of other related requests.  The core of the feedback was that Facebook Insights (or any existing analytics provider) did not adequately explain cause & effect on Facebook.  For example,

  • I post something, what happens?
  • I don't post something today or for a week, what are the implications?
  • I use a particular agency to manage my pages, are they doing what I want?
  • I think my competitor is beating me, how can I tell?
  • What goals should I set for my team/consultant/self?
  • What are the right metrics?
  • Are we winning?
  • Are we getting closer to something resembling a ROI?

The problem was that social metrics had not "grown up" to answer basic questions about marketing and the competitive landscape.  The ones that had existed were almost all built using Facebook Insights data, which is incomplete, confusing, and does not give you any information on your competitors.

So we applied the same data mining techniques we used to determine Fan activity to all the analytics a marketer would/should care about.  This is probably our #1 differentiator.  We record every social interaction on a page and discard absolutely nothing.

Take for example the illustration below, from the Healthy Choice Facebook Page.  This one User Post was written by Julez, liked by Jennifer, responded to by the Healthy Choice Page 4 hours later, commented on by Tim, and both the comments were liked by someone.  Apply this rigor to any Facebook Page, and you can learn some truly insightful things.  Apply it across multiple pages, and you can learn a lot about a competitive market, an industry, or how people are interacting with Pages on Facebook as a whole.SocialDataBreakdown

Polygraph is the only product that dives deep into the available data and makes sense of it for marketers.  We think there is a ton of knowledge trapped in this publicly available data, and we're unlocking it using data mining, data science, and world-class analytics.

More to come as we go along — examples, how people are using the information we provide, creative uses of Polygraph, and where we're going in the future — but now you know how we conceived of Polygraph!