Startup to analyze readers’ emotions

The Index project will analyze the way people perceive media content. Using opportunities provided by the startup, editors of online media will be able to learn whether readers finish reading the article, how many users saw the materials and to what extent the content is unique. It will also be possible to predict the efficiency of the publication in general and its columnists in particular. Index founder Leonid Filatov told Invest Foresight about how readers’ personality influences the popularity of publications, how the financial efficiency of the media can be improved and what are the ways to collect information about the audience. 

From geography to psycholinguistics 

The Index concept is based on several systems and technologies that have been developed by the startup team for the past eight years. It all began with the Spylog web analytics program. The main function of this revolutionary refactoring system was website traffic analysis. The system was purchased by project initiator Leonid Filatov who sold the controlling stock of Masterhost. He founded the company in 1999 and in ten years transformed it from a startup to the absolute hosting leader in Russia according to the 2009 rankings.

The Index platform is currently working with both classic parameters such as website traffic statistics, determining the device and reader’s geography, and also is able to determine whether people finish reading the articles, do semantic analysis and determine the uniqueness of the text and the popularity of its authors. The use of additional functions allows for improving the efficiency of publication activity using separate criteria and helps select correspondents. 

A new promising area is the introduction of psycholinguistics. At the initial stage of editing the material, it is possible to predict the emotional state it will put the reader in. And, thus, to understand what goal the publication will have: to establish a dialogue with the reader or rouse them to some action.

A quarter billion project 

The development of Index was financed by the founders and individual partners. Team members contributed to the project with their own technical developments. Some RUR 250 mio ($4 mio) has been used so far, including for developing software and creating additional functions and sales instruments.

The main aim of the project is developing recommendations for certain media and media holdings as well as for the companies that are interested in delivering their messages to the audience in the most efficient way. As a pilot project, the Index analytical system has been introduced in Dagestan, where is it currently servicing 20 mass media. The basic package of analytical services and the package with advanced features cost RUR 100,000 rubles ($1,500) including VAT. It is early yet to speak about the payback of the local project as it is only being introduced. 

Currently, Index employs only four people; other developers are involved in outsourcing. The project has received assistance from the Internet Development Fund. 

Presidential election and users’ psychological types  

Index’s main clients are private mass media and regional ministries. Work is now underway to introduce the system in Russian regions to provide relevant departments with analytical data. Earlier in 2011, Rostelecom telecommunications operator became one of such clients to implement the project of video monitoring of the Russian presidential election in 2012. Under the project, the company performed all work related to analyzing the data provided by web cameras installed at polling stations. 

Today, the Index project offers new, more detailed methods of audience research, such as analyzing users’ psychological types. 

“The system can understand the emotions that a certain article can provoke, and it can predict whether a person will get up off the couch after reading it or will simply express his indignation”, says Leonid Filatov.

Index uses methods borrowed from medical psychology.

Analyzing psychosomatics 

Recently, the company has completed introducing in the system a method of recognizing audience psychological types and ways to understand their mood. Leonid Filatov shared future plans:

“We are not going to be satisfied with what we have achieved. Our plans include developing a recommendation system for psychosomatic effects. We can give recommendations to authors and editors on actual change of text tonality”.

The Index management team’s plans include developing another project – creating a platform that would allow holding author auctions. Such service will provide editors with an opportunity to form assignment and hold competitions for authors. Work is also underway to develop the project “A Correspondent’s Personal Account”, which will allow journalists evaluating popularity of their articles. According to Filatov, Index provides an opportunity for editors “to see what is actually happening with their audience”. 

By Christina Firsova

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