1000heads: First Direct come first, but what about the others?

Recently our Data Systems Manager here at 1000heads, one Mr Andrew Stretton, was extolling the virtues of First Direct. Their first forays into social media have been widely covered by the trade press and – as such – FD have followed up with some facts and figures.

However, it’s these facts and figures that are raising questions with our manager of data systems.

Andrew, the floor is yours


First Direct captured my attention this week with an innovative ad campaign on London Underground, using the findings of an online market research study as its centrepiece.

“77% of what’s said about us online is positive”

It’s exciting to see companies shouting about their word of mouth. The sample WOM on the advert is also interesting – could we soon see realtime social media feeds on billboards just as Skittles attempted on their website?

On the other hand, the wording of the ad and the methodology used raises a few questions.

First Direct claim that 77% of what’s said about them “online” is positive, based upon a sample of opinions posted in a controlled environment on a brand presence. It would be interesting to know what the results would be if all banks gave their users the same opportunity and what the exact effects of the incentives involved were.

As Data Systems Manager here at 1000heads I’m tasked with bringing our clients a representative sample of spontaneous conversation from the widest variety of online sources possible. Benchmarked, contextual data from realtime, unprompted conversation could provide more interesting top line stats for an advert, giving people a birdseye view of what they themselves are saying online. For example:

“In online conversation, Brand X is strongly endorsed 20% more often than any other major UK bank”

This is of course is not to say that surveys have no place, it’s just that there is so much more insight out there to play with.

How do you think these different measures of opinion can be reconciled? Do let us know what you think in the comments, or if you would like to know more about our WOMTrak and WOMActive products please drop us a line.

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Author: James Whatley

Chief Strategy Officer in adland. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

5 thoughts on “1000heads: First Direct come first, but what about the others?”

  1. I think it’s really important to distinguish between organic consumer WOM and surveyed WOM. The contexts are totally different. The first derives from unprompted passion for the brand and reflects its true visibility, while the latter, although also useful, is engineered and does not necessarily reflect what, or if, people might discuss in their everyday social spaces.

  2. Hi Andrew, Rebecca here from first direct. I liked your challenging post, but just wanted to clear a few things up…

    When we talk about the percentage of what’s said about us onine as being positive (77% at the moment) we actually pull this data from our live site. We update our advertising daily with any fluctuations (up or down!).

    The live site isn’t a controlled environment; it uses an aggregated search engine [provided by a company called Millward Brown Precis] to provide the raw data. It scans millions of sites including Twitter, blogs (and comments on blogs), micro blogging platforms, mainstream media, forums etc… (not all of Facebook though, just the publicly available bits.) We then filters these with the objective of removing the majority of “first direct” phrases not related to the “bank” or “brand” aiming for maximum relevant results. Then we filter them again for positive and negative words to determine the sentiment scores, and to collect and display words for the word widget. The word widget words pass through a profanity filter to ensure nothing unsuitable is displayed.

    So as you can see all banks have the same opportunity to gather this data.

    Hope this clears thing up a bit.



  3. Hi Rachel, I really appreciate you stopping by, it’s great to get some clarification on this. First Direct have clearly begun an interesting debate with both of the percentages used in this campaign. I look forward to the day when brands start posting live league tables using their particular measures of sentiment so that we can see all of these figures in context.

  4. At what time when speak regarding the proportion of what's said about us online as being we in fact drag this information from our live site.

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