C&IS Launches Public Opinion Lab

Sep 10, 2018

Housed in the Institute for Communication and Information Research (ICIR), the Public Opinion Lab is an innovative space for social analytics designed for both academic and industry research. The Public Opinion Lab opened August of this year and is made possible through a partnership with Crimson Hexagon, an AI-powered data source of consumer insights. Crimson Hexagon offers a user-friendly dashboard that provides real time data pulled from a repository of public consumer conversations from global sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Instagram. Crimson Hexagon’s data is used and trusted by the world’s leading brands and agencies such as Walmart, Adidas and Paramount. Now, both students and researchers at The University of Alabama will have access to this platform through the Public Opinion Lab and can use the pulled social listening data to form robust insights for brands or research reports.

More specifically, the Public Opinion Lab will be used by campaigns classes at The University of Alabama, the summative and last course for public relations and advertising students within C&IS. The dashboard in the lab creates customized word sentiment analysis, word clouds of the most commonly used words on a given topic and provides demographic and geographic breakdowns of a selected audience. These insights can help create data-driven campaigns and can help clients anticipate and understand critical communication problems.  This database can be used for predictive modeling for trends and conversations about brands or topics. Dr. Jameson Hayes, the director of the Public Opinion Lab, says that he hopes this integration will “expose students to the tools that agencies are already using for their clients.”

The implications for this lab extend outside of the classroom. Currently, the Public Opinion Lab is being used to examine how military veterans and their families discuss suicide online. Ultimately, the insights gathered from this study could help improve dialogue between medical services and military services. Hayes says that there are a variety of ways this lab can be used for social science purposes. “I’m very excited about the breadth of interest in the lab,” said Hayes, “The Public Opinion Lab has an impact on the undergraduate- and graduate-level students and certainly with faculty research and grant capabilities, as well.”

The Public Opinion Lab goes beyond likes and hashtags on a social website. The interface draws from billions of data points across multiple social networking sites to examine patterns of emotional sentiment and relationships between brands and consumers. To learn more about the lab, visit their Twitter.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about our research initiatives, visit cis.ua.edu/research.