IPG Adds Social Media Monitoring

NEW YORK Interpublic Group continued beefing up its social-media capabilities, inking a partnership with buzz-tracking service Radian6.

The deal allows IPG shops, particularly its public relations agencies, to use New Brunswick, Canada-based Radian6’s Web dashboard to monitor conversations on leading social-media sites. The tool generates charts and graphs identifying influencers and gauging their conversations as they unfold.

“This type of tool becomes really critical [because of] the insight you can gather from being part of the conversation” as media becomes increasingly conversation based, said Bant Breen, president of IPG’s Futures Marketing Group.

The partnership is the latest for the unit IPG set up in February to house new agencies like search shop Reprise Media, strike deals in emerging media, incubate new offerings like mobile agency Ansible (formed with London-based Velti) and house IPG’s Emerging Media Lab.

The Futures Marketing Group last month formed a partnership deal with BzzAgent for IPG agencies to use its word-of-mouth services and conduct research. While both agreements give IPG shops favorable pricing, the ability to develop customized products drove the deals, according to Breen.

“We’re doing these to support our agencies as they develop their social-media capabilities across the board,” he said.

IPG is not alone among holding companies interested in tracking Web chatter. WPP Group has plowed $9 million into Visible Technologies, a Radian6 competitor. Others in the space include Cymfony, Umbria and BuzzMetrics.

IPG public relations shop Weber Shandwick is the first IPG unit to use Radian6. Through most of the year, the agency has been using the social media tool to monitor Web chatter on blogs, social media and review sites for 34 clients.

“It’s been a window into engagement and conversations,” said Bonin Bough, evp of Weber Shandwick’s Screengrab social media unit. “Identifying what’s being said about a client and getting a sense of share of voice and then beginning to engage in a conversation with our clients [is key].”