EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

08.19.09

Visible Technologies Funded by Former Microsoft People

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft at 4:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

May Also be Breaking British Laws That Forbid Buzz Marketing

Tin man
Bot-guided pseudo-opinions

Summary: Unethical marketing firm funded and run by Microsoft veterans, who are managing some of Microsoft’s brands by intervening in social networks

YESTERDAY we wrote about Visible Technologies, which manages perceptions [1, 2] for Microsoft. We showed that there were many incidental connections between Microsoft and Visible Technologies at the business and staff level, but a financial relationship was not shown at the time. After some searching we managed to find who funded Visible Technologies when it was younger. It turns out that they are funded by ex-Microsoft staff via the Ignition shell that we wrote about before. It is filled with former Microsoft executives who give money strategically.

From the Seattle P-I:

Visible Technologies, which is announcing $12 million in venture funding Monday from Ignition Partners and WPP Group, is trying to solve that problem. The 4-year-old Seattle company’s products not only allow clients to track conversations on blogs and news sites, but also actively participate in them.

[...]

As a result of the investment, Michelle Goldberg of Ignition Partners has joined the board.

Goldberg said that Visible has a compelling technology that helps companies manage their online reputations.

Michelle Goldberg used to be at Microsoft. The large majority of Ignition Partners is just Microsoft veterans. To the naked eye, however, the investment above would probably trigger no suspicion.

It did not take long for more Microsoft veterans to join this company which does the AstroTurf campaigns for Microsoft (where such practices, when used in a more political arena, are also causing trouble like war, global warming, and other travesties that promote or justify harm in exchange of money). Here is Visible Technologies and Microsoft exhibiting together like a couple:

Webcast with Visible Technologies and Microsoft

On Thursday May 22nd I’ll be participating in a webcast with Blake Cahill from Visible Technologies and Marty Collins from Microsoft.

Visible Technologies has another site, called “VisInsights”. It’s like another identity, just like TruCast and TruPulse. “Another visible technologies site [is] trureputation.com,” says Ryan. The “About” page of VisInsights says:

Visible Technologies LogoVisible Technologies is a leading provider of online brand management solutions for companies and individuals in today’s rapidly changing new media environment

The site contains big tags like “Brand Management” and “Reputation Management”. They are also concerned about some of their practices seemingly becoming illegal here in the UK. Those British laws must be such a nuisance to them!

Buzz Marketing techniques to become illegal in UK?

[...]

I am not sure how this one slipped by me late last week but thought I would share the update from the IPA in the UK. Effective on the 26 of May 2008 certain activities will become a criminal offense when the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations becomes effective.

Seeding positive messages about a brand in a blog without making it clear that the message has been created by, or on behalf of, the brand will be an offense. Using “buzz marketing” specialists to communicate with potential customers in social situations without disclosing that they are acting as brand ambassadors will be an offense.

From the comment found here:

Last night I read an article in the Post Intelligencer about this company called (ironically) Visible Technologies that’s in Seattle. Their whole job is to monitor comments about their corporate clients that show up on blogs, forums, etc., and report back so that the company can respond. I think ‘anonymous’ is a faceless man in a suit.

Based on the Seattle Times, Visible Technologies may leave no disclosures. Microsoft certainly does not [1, 2, 3]. Yesterday we quoted from the The Seattle Times the following: “Clients pick an “author” or opt for anonymity. Visible [Technologies] also has a virtual army — thousands of personas registered with online forums.”

“So many to choose from,” remarks Ryan, “I wonder how many postings on forums are the same person from Visible Technologies replying to themselves. As of August 2006, they only had 28 employees, so either they did some hiring or those 28 employees are each 10 different people on every forum they “monitor”.”

Professor Walter Carl had something to say about such marketing techniques:

One of the age old debates by many who don’t know much about Word of Mouth Marketing is the argument that it’s okay to pay people to be a shill for a company. The problem is that many of them never reveal who they are working for. There’s a good interview with Professor Walter Carl of Northeastern University on NPR. I recommend you give it a listen!

Here is an example of AstroTurfing gone bad. Visible Technologies is quoted in the article.

Marketing campaign sinks Cruise Critic

[...]

“People are looking to people online to validate a purchase,” says Blake Cahill, senior vice president of marketing at Visible Technologies, whose clients include Microsoft and Panasonic.

More insight comes from here where Visible Technologies gets mentioned:

Most social data aggregators (like TNS, who is great, along with many of their stellar competitors like Visible Technologies, Radian6 et al) usually apply sentiment scores using a mix of people and programs. Unless a live analyst (fluent btw in both the local language and vernacular) is making the decision about whether a post to a blog or a tweet or blip is positive, negative or neither/neutral, you should be very suspicious of the accuracy – and more importantly, actionability – of any “score”.

And it gets expensive quickly asking a live analyst to manually read, assess and score hundreds of thousands of such posts or tweets. So we all rely on technology to help, and it’s a great but not perfect science.

You can do like we do and create language cartridges specific to the product domain or category and that helps. Or have our social media analysts scan samplings of the machine scored outputs of our data aggregator partners and fine-tune the “sentiment scores” from this.

Some time ago, Visible Technologies hooked up with the Aberdeen Group to justify its practices, just like Microsoft's patent troll, Nathan Myhrvold, funded a so-called ‘study’ to justify his hoarding/trolling which harms everyone.

Companies are learning how to leverage social media and tap into the rising tide of consumers participating in social network sites, blogs, wikis and Twitter.

According to the “The ROI on Social Media Marketing” report from the Aberdeen Group, sponsored by Visible Technologies, marketers have developed the tools and methodologies to drive marketing ROI by listening to and learning from customers and prospects.

Visible Technologies’ TruCast is also abused in other areas of society:

“some of them are fakes” … but that doesn’t stop MSNBC, CNN, and FOX from reporting the fake information as news… that should tell you something right there.

The way that is happening is they didn’t come out of Iran in the first place. A firm like Burson-Marsteller has been behind them from the beginning, using technology they readily advertise on their website called TRU-CAST (which basically means, in the new Orwellian Speak, “lying on the webcasts”). They’re “shaping” the story to help force a regime change in Iran through the use of social media site like FaceBook and TWITTER.

“The understanding of “sentiment” allows us to FOCUS THE MESSAGE in a way that traditional media would not allow us to do.” Visible Technologies talking about the tool Tru-Cast

[...]

TruCast (Visible Technologies): Burson-Marsteller partners with Visible Technologies to helps clients interact, manage and grow their brands in the blogosphere and social media communities. With TruCast, Burson-Marsteller clients gain the following benefits:

o Social Media and Blog Monitoring to track viral conversations about the client’s brand and products and to react quickly to online dialogues affecting the brand
o Social Media Learning and Measurement to brand Influencers and activists, assess the conversation volume about your products and brand
o Social Media Marketing and Customer Engagement to drive influential peer-to-peer, word-of-mouth promotion and measure marketing programs and media campaign success

[...]

“The Visible Technolgies “Tool-kit”, the Tru-Cast Platform, the “Engagement Console” enables us to actually ACTION that analysis, to LEVERAGE that insight. It enables us to participate in the conversations, to FOCUS OUR MESSAGING… to help us better target how we place our messaging

Some other names of companies that engage in similar practices can be found here: (we saw some before [1, 2])

Radian6 has many competitors like BuzzLogic, Nielsen BuzzMetrics, and Visible Technologies. Brogan argues that these services are too expensive, charging upwards of $50,000. Radian6 has some solutions that are as low as $500/month. The big difference, said Brogan, is with Radian6 you get the toolset, not just a report at the end of the month that tells you what’s happening. Other services may charge you for every requested change. Radian6 lets you change the terms and tweak until you see what you need to see.

Marketing firms go further than this and may even create fake blogs (or “flogs”).

Whether it’s creating a “flog,” or posting a shill review on Amazon.com, many people have taken to using the Web to help shape opinion, while also obscuring their own identities.

There’s this recent article from Business Week.

If “pay per post” lets online writers shill for cash, why not go all the way and sell real-life opinions, too?

Well, Microsoft has done that too. Microsoft bribed professors who mentioned its software. Here is Microsoft’s Jon Udell speaking about Visible Technologies.

You could of course monitor those conversations using the existing suite of awareness tools: search, link aggregation, tag aggregation. But a new breed of power tools is emerging, and she’ll be using the ones provided by Visible Technologies.

It must be exciting for Microsoft to ponder these prospects. “Those kinds of people are the reason I turned on comment moderation for all comments,” argues Ryan. “[The] default for WordPress is that after you approve one comment, anything else they post automatically gets added, so I had people make one innocent comment then spew a bunch of crap while I wasn’t looking.”

“Can’t you funnel this PR money into making your products not suck instead?”
      –Ryan
Chris Pirillo is associated with them,” he added. “Pirillo has been a Microsoft shill for a while. They send him Windows shirts and baseball hats and free copies of all their stuff. Pirillo blogs about them [there is a video there, too]. Good video, seems to explain what they do.”

In his own blog, Ryan concludes as follows: “It’s getting to the point where the web is so deluged with astroturfing agencies like Visible Technologies that you can’t trust anything you read, which is their entire goal to begin with.”

[...]

“If this page gets a hit from Visible Technologies or Microsoft, I’d like to say that instead of trying to yell over your critics, might I suggest actually fixing the very real defects in your products they’re complaining about?

“How much are you guys paying these people to do damage control for you after you turn our PCs into black boxes for the MPAA and decide to save $1 per unit on the XBOX 360 console by skimping on the cooling system leading to five times the failure rate of the PS3, and nearly ten times the failure rate of the Wii?

“Can’t you funnel this PR money into making your products not suck instead?”

“No other large companies as far as I know use their employees as attack dogs to silen[ce] dissent. It’s time for Microsoft to stop this nonsense.”

The Prickly Prince From Microsoft Strikes Again

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 23/7/2016: Leo Laporte on GNU/Linux, Dolphin Emulator’s Vulkan Completion

    Links for the day



  2. Links 22/7/2016: Wine 1.9.15, KaOS 2016.07 ISO

    Links for the day



  3. Haar Mentioned as Likely Site of Appeal Boards as Their Eradication or Marginalisation Envisioned by UPC Proponent Benoît Battistelli

    Not only the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) is under severe attack and possibly in mortal danger; the increasingly understaffed Boards of Appeal too are coming under attack and may (according to rumours) be sent to Haar, a good distance away from Munich and the airport (half an hour drive), not to mention lack of facilities for visitors from overseas



  4. EPO Attaché Albert Keyack Viewed as Somewhat of a Mole, Reporting From the US Embassy in Brazil Until Shortly Before the Temer Coup

    Public responses to the role played by Albert Keyack on behalf of the United States inside the European [sic] Patent Office



  5. EPO Insiders Explain Why the EPO's Examination Quality Rapidly Declines and Will Get Even Worse Because of Willy Minnoye

    Public comments from anonymous insiders serve to highlight a growing crisis inside the European Patent Office (EPO), where experienced/senior examiners are walking away and leaving an irreplaceable bunch of seats (due to high experience demands)



  6. Patents Roundup: BlackBerry, Huawei, PTAB, GAO, Aggressive Universities With Patents, and Software Patents in Europe

    Various bits and pieces of news regarding patents and their fast-changing nature in the United States nowadays



  7. Glimpse at Patent Systems Across the World: Better Quality Control at the USPTO Post-America Invents Act (2011), Unlike the EPO Post-Battistelli (2010)

    While the EPO reportedly strives to eliminate pendency and appeal windows altogether (rubberstamping being optimal performance as per the yardstick du jour), the USPTO introduces changes that would strengthen the system and shield innovation, not protect the business model of serial litigants



  8. Blockstream Has No Patents, But Pledges Not to Sue Using Patents

    Blockstream says that it comes in peace when it comes to software patents, which triggers speculations about coming Blockchain patent wars



  9. Links 21/7/2016: Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS, Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” Xfce Beta

    Links for the day



  10. Links 21/7/2016: An Honorary Degree for Alan Cox, Looks Back at DebConf16

    Links for the day



  11. EPO USA: Under Battistelli, the 'European' Patent Office Emulates All the Mistakes of the USPTO

    Conservative Benoît Battistelli is trying to impose on the European Patent Office various truly misguided policies and he viciously attacks anyone or anything that stands in his way, including his formal overseers



  12. Links 19/7/2016: ARM and Opera Buyout

    Links for the day



  13. Large Corporations' Software Patenting Pursuits Carry on in Spite of Patent Trolls That Threaten Small Companies the Most

    With unconvincing excuses such as OIN, large corporations including IBM continue to promote software patents in the United States, even when public officials and USPTO officials work towards ending those



  14. Battistelli Has Implemented De Facto EPO Coup to Remove Oversight, Give Himself Total Power, and Allegedly Give UPC Gifts (Loot) to French Officials

    Benoît Battistelli's agenda at the EPO is anything but beneficial to the EPO and suspicions that Battistelli's overall agenda is transitioning to the UPC to further his goals grow feet



  15. EPO Social [sic] Report is a Big Pile of Lies That Responsible Journalists Must Ignore

    A reminder of where the EPO stands on social issues and why the latest so-called 'social' report is nothing but paid-for propaganda for Battistelli's political ambitions



  16. Links 18/7/2016: Vista 10 a Failure, FreeType 2.7

    Links for the day



  17. Exploiting Perceived Emergencies/Disasters, Suspending the Rule of Law, and Suspending Judges: How Erdoğan is Like Battistelli, Except the Coup

    Pretexts for crackdown on law-abiding people or figureheads who are remote and independent the hallmark not only of Erdoğan but also the EPO's President, Benoit Battistelli



  18. The Impotence of Gene Quinn

    Attacking the enforcer of Alice v CLS because it's doing harm to his source of income, which makes him angry



  19. After the FTI Consulting-EPO Reputation Laundering Deal's Expansion in Germany Süddeutsche Zeitung 'Forgets' That the EPO Even Exists

    Relative apathy if not complete silence regarding the EPO at Süddeutsche Zeitung following reports of FTI Consulting's deal expansion (media positioning in Germany), with hundreds of thousands of Euros (EPO budget) thrown at the controversial task



  20. Benoît Battistelli and Persistratos

    Reminds you of someone?



  21. Whistleblower Protection Desperately Needed at the European Patent Office

    EPO scandals are not publicly accessible or known to many people and not many such scandals are known at all because people are afraid of Battistelli's Fabius Maximus strategies



  22. Microsoft and Its Patent Minions at Nokia Still Have Patent Stacking Ambitions Against Android/Linux OEMs

    Weaponisation of European companies for the sake of artificial elevation of prices (patent taxes) a growing issue for Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and those behind it are circulating money among themselves not for betterment of products but for the crippling of FOSS contenders



  23. [ES] ¿Que si la EPO Bajo Battistelli Se Arruina Sin Posibilidad de Reparación Como la UPC?

    La última evidencia alrededor del hundimiénto de la reputación de la Epo y su calidad de trabajo, así como la caída del sistema que Battistelli trata forzadamente de imponer (una carrera al fondo)



  24. [ES] La EPO de Battistelli, Quién Quiebra la Ley, Subvierte el Curso de la Justicia y Rechaza Obedecer las Ordenes de la Corte Dice lo Impensable en Medio de los Actos de Terror

    Los terribles ataques hace un dia en Francia están siéndo explotados por el caradura de Benoît Battistelli para comedia negra o un verdaderamente absurda afirmación en la sección de “noticias” de la EPO



  25. [ES] La EPO de Battistelli Continúa Cortejando a Officiales de Países Pequeños y su Propaganda de Beneficiar a las “PYMEs de Aquellos Países”

    El caradura de Benoît Battistelli prosigue desfilando en los países pequeños que tienen delegados al Consejo Administrativo (CA) y los explota para propaganda barata, no sólo para que lo apoyen en las reuniónes del CA



  26. Links 17/7/2016: Lithuanian Police Switches to GNU/Linux, Blockchain on LinuxONE

    Links for the day



  27. This is Why Benoît Battistelli Has 0% Approval Rating Among 'His' Staff at the EPO

    The EPO expresses solidarity regarding (mostly) French people but does so only in English as the real purpose is to manipulate the media and justify the EPO's sheer abuses and unprecedented oppression against staff



  28. Law Professors Try to Put an End to Patent Trolls So Patent Trolls-Funded IAM 'Magazine' Complains

    Many professors suggest a method of stopping patent trolls (restrictions on venue shifting), so patent trolls-funded propaganda sites and think tanks strike back and distract even further, putting forth a wish list or a 'reform' that's designed to give them more money and incredibly protectionist power



  29. The Importance of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and High-Quality Patents (Not Software Patents)

    Strong patents rather than strong patent enforcement (i.e. ease of legal abuse) help discern the difference between successful economies and self-destructive economies



  30. With 'Friends' Like IBM and Its 'Open' Invention Network We Legitimise Software Patents Rather Than End Them

    Another reminder of where IBM stands on patent policy and what this means to those who rely on IBM for sheltering of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) or small businesses (SMEs) in a post-Alice era


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts