When we say that semantic technology has a whole lot of awesome potential, this is a fun example of what we're talking about. If it can be done for restaurants, we expect similar analysis of online sentiment can be sold for all kinds of different real-world sectors.
The idea is that BooRah tracks positive and negative reviews of food, service and ambiance at restaurants across hundreds of online review sites. The service monitors trends toward negative and positive reviews, pulls out key quotes from users and offers other value adds based on its technology.
Now restaurant owners can subscribe to receive a PDF of their monthly reports for an introductory price of $15 and a regular price of $25 per month. (Here's a sample report, in PDF format.)
Simple charts and a straightforward presentation can offer restaurant owners nervous about the Wild West of online opinion a bird's eye view of what's really going on, month by month. On the down side, the reports may enable those business owners to spot and track down negative reviewers to hassle them for the injustices they've no doubt done to a fine eatery.
Think many restaurants will go for it? That depends on how it's marketed, but we expect that today's coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle will help.
We first reviewed semantic and natural language processing review aggregation service BooRah this Spring and said we could foresee giving up Yelp for it. Then in December we called BooRah one of the Top 10 Semantic Web Products of 2008.
Now this latest offering has got us really excited; its simple utility and mainstream appeal are really compelling.
We love the idea of selling aggregate reports of online activity, intelligently analyzed, to mainstream businesses effected by online activity. Sales, marketing and PR firms have paid hefty sums for these kinds of reports, often clumsily gathered and presented, for years. Aim the semantic web at the problem, give it a good price point and offer it to a very large sector of businesses and we may just see some action in the semantic technology sector after all.
Update: Our original title for this story referenced Yelp, whom we mistakenly thought were included in BooRah's aggregation of reviews. Yelp contacted us to say that they are in fact not included. We hope that will change soon - it would only make both sites more useful.