Apple spent more than $200 million to acquire Topsy Labs Inc., a social media analytics company that focuses on the analysis of Twitter’s global conversation. This means Apple wants to have a greater share of the social life, but why?
Topsy uses special analytics tools that perform various functions, including measuring the exposure of campaigns or events, finding influential people on particular subjects and deciphering the frequency at which a given term is tweeted. It can track 95 percent of tweets by country of origin.
There are currently about 500 million tweets a day, and Topsy has had access to the “fire hose” since 2006. The company analyzes the information accessed and resells it to different customers. Only a few Twitter partners have such complete access to the stream of tweets.
This means it is unlikely that Topsy and Apple could have reached the agreement without receiving a nod from Twitter. However, neither Twitter nor Topsy has given any comment about the issue.
Analysts are still scratching their heads in an attempt to uncover the reason behind Apple’s interest in Topsy. However, they note that the insights from Topsy are relevant to such Apple services as the iAd advertising platform, Siri voice assistant and iTunes media store. For example, Apple can use Topsy’s analysis to recommend TV shows, movies and songs to iTunes users. The engineering knowledge gained could also be used to glean similar insights from various data sets.
Taking a closer look at what users are interested in will help Apple have a better understanding of their affinities. According to Altimeter Group’s Susan Etlinger, an industry analyst, Twitter is streamlined toward understanding conversations revolving around entertainment.
This understanding can help Apple in its online advertising efforts, especially concerning its online streaming-music service called iTunes Radio. The data that Topsy collects can also benefit different Apple partners, including iOS app developers, advertisers in iAd and media companies that deliver relevant content to the iTunes stores.
These apple partners would enjoy better access to real-time data. The acquisition gives Apple the opportunity to help these partners improve their marketing efforts.
Apple launched iAd in 2010 as a way of selling ads within iOS apps for iPods, iPads and iPhones. However, marketers have not embraced it warmly so far. At first, the company wanted advertisers to invest at least $1 million per iAd campaign, but it has lowered the amount to $100,000.
Topsy can help Apple monitor what consumers say about its products in social media, including the iAd platform. The company’s technology would also be useful in refining Siri voice assistant’s search feature.
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