February 14, 2008

Sentiment Analytics Opportunities

A colleague provided a link to this article and I loved the title: Sentiment Analysis. This article is another perspective on a theme I have been posting on this forum for some time—moving fundraising analytics beyond simply “who” and “how much” (which are important questions) into more analysis of giving motivations, or "why.”

Presented here is a more in-depth consideration of some of the inherent challenges in using text analytics. The most basic challenge discussed is that opinions (say for example affinity) are harder to describe than facts (I gave $100). This article touches on some basic concepts that may “boost” fuzzy opinions and statements into data with high utility and function. Some of these strategies include:

*Classifying the source for more tailored analysis (gift officer notes, institutional survey, donor pledge card).
*If you have the appropriate software-lexical choice analysis.
*Bayesian methods to identify matching patterns.
*Hybrids of sentiment and account fielded (primarily numeric) analysis to improve sentiment “accuracy.”
*Making “two passes” at text—using automated tools/software, then a set of human eyes to verify results.

This article poses more questions than answers, but I believe with sentiment analytics relatively absence in the fundraising world, questions are the best place to start.

Sentiment Analysis: Opportunities and Challenges

Sentiment analysis is one of the most exciting applications of text analytics today. It may also be the most challenging. The steps involved in sentiment analysis are easy enough to grasp: use automated tools to discern, extract, and process attitudinal information found in text; apply to sources as varied as articles, blog postings, e-mail, call-center notes, and survey responses that capture facts and opinions. What do customers, reviewers, the business community – thought leaders and the public – think about your company and your company's products and services – and about your competitors? What can you learn that will help you improve design and quality, positioning, and messaging and also respond quickly to complaints?

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