There's a lot of buzz building lately around a firm out of London called PeerIndex. PeerIndex has set out to perform a significant but complex task: identify who's worth listening to online. Think about it: with everyone on the Internet offering their opinions about everything, how does one separate the good from the bad? How do you know if someone is respected and trusted?


What PeerIndex is doing currently is monitoring LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter activity, and through a proprietary algorithm, assigning bloggers and the like ratings based on their authority, activity and audience.


While there is probably a consumer play in here somewhere, PeerIndex has wisely designed to follow the money: it's selling its ratings to those who want to influence the influencers. Think what a public relations firm for an airline, for example, could do if it knew which bloggers talked about air travel, which ones had the biggest audiences, and which ones were the most influential?


This isn't exactly a new concept by the way. I first came across it in healthcare, where pharmaceutical companies spend big dollars trying in various ways to identify Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) -- healthcare professionals who are well-known and well-regarded in some specific area. The goal is identical: influence the influencers. What particularly interests me about the various efforts around identifying KOLs is that they tend to draw on far more data sources than PeerIndex is currently using -- physician credentials databases, journal articles, conference attendance and speaker lists, and much more. Because of their structured format, databases can be particularly powerful inputs into these types of influence assessment engines.


PeerIndex is worth taking a look at, and perhaps talking to. PeerIndex may have use for your data, and vertical market opportunities are sure to proliferate for content such as this. Better yet, non-politicians can now sell influence as well!