Text mining of websites can fill in the gaps between quantitative and qualitative data. Due to advances in software it is now possible to automatically identify and classify favourable or unfavourable terms relating to various brands and products. It is even possible to measure and categorize actual emotional reactions.Some people will remember that as long ago as 1998, I was proposing that Neural Nets would provide and answer (I even have an academic paper published that mentions it).
"The increasing importance of social media (consumer blogging and community boards) is changing how firms should measure marketing and PR effectiveness. Yet very few firms are allocating research funds to measuring the impact of this new media short of going in to monitor what is being said a few times a month," according to Rebecca Gillan, Senior VP, Research & Guest Satisfaction, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. "Consumer blogging and community boards are a rich data source allowing firms to gain unbiased/top of mind thoughts from consumers and having a method to mine thousands of comments so that management can understand what is being said is exciting."
Pity the PR industry is so slow in adopting these ideas.