Most pollsters wrongly forecast Democrat Hillary Clinton as leading Trump ahead of Tuesday’s election in the latest fiasco to hit the $20 billion public opinion research industry, only months after it failed to predict the British vote to leave the European Union in a June referendum.
Among the few that got it right was a new industry player using a different method, South African firm BrandsEye, which analyzes social media posts.
With offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg, BrandsEye took an entirely different approach from traditional polling.
The data-miner pays people around the world to sift through social media for relevant posts, a process known as crowd-sourcing, and then uses a computer algorithm to rate consumer sentiment about products or politicians.
Its method pointed to a Trump victory. It also correctly called Britain’s Brexit vote.
“My phone has not stopped,” CEO and part owner JP Kloppers said in a telephone interview on Thursday.
Kloppers said venture capitalists have been calling about investing in the firm, and polling companies have inquired about its methods. Kloppers said the company was open to licensing its technology.
Existing clients include ride-sharing firm Uber, banks, telecommunications firms and some government agencies, he said. He declined to identify the governments.
“Elections come every couple of years, but there are companies and governments that need to understand every day and every week what’s driving customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction,” Kloppers said.
New methods, if successful, are of high interest to polling companies that are having difficulty reaching cellphone users or survey-weary Americans.
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Reporting by David Ingram and Jeffrey Dastin; Editing by Will Dunham