Competitive Watch and Marketing Watch:
If you are interested by what your competitors are doing, by their products and services, or the other players of your market (distributors, providers, customers...), then alerting agents can help you in various ways:
- The direct approach consists of first manually identifying (with traditional search tools) your competitors’ sites or other players whom you wish to monitor. Then, within each site, find the parts that deserve "particular attention" (often these are the pages devoted to "products and services" or "What’s new"). Finally, you choose an alerting agent in order to be informed about any new products or innovations that may appear. In general, the off-line alerting agents allow a level of personalization that is much higher than "on-line" agents.
- The indirect approach comes from the observation that effective competitive watch can not be limited to what the competitors choose to communicate... They are well aware that what they publish will not only be read by their customers or prospective customers... It is therefore necessary to find complimentary sources of information. With the help of traditional search tools (engines, directories, meta-motors), you will need to identify the articles, reviews, magazines and all other Web sites likely to contain interesting information. Still, you will always choose one or more alerting agents to monitor the results of your discoveries...
- The objective of the empirical approach is to be aware of all the noises and rumors, founded or not, which circulate about such and such company, or such and such product. In general, it is above all by analyzing newsgroup archives that you will obtain "juiciest" information. But one should not neglect mailing lists and personal and "nonofficial" websites.