With Tap11 Buy AVOS Is Playing a Big Game With Big Data

AVOS, the new startup run by YouTube (s goog) founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, brought much more clarity to its strategy Monday by announcing its acquisition of social media analytics startup Tap11. The deal suggests AVOS could be targeting the market research segment, a move that would pit the startup against some of the tech industry’s heaviest hitters, including Google (s GOOG), Salesforce.com (s crm) and even large ad firms.

AVOS launched in late April with a headline-grabbing acquisition of social bookmarking pioneer Delicious from Yahoo (s YHOO), but thus far, its exact strategy has been tough to pin down. On its website, AVOS describes itself simply as “an Internet company” that aims to “help solve the problem of information overload.”

In a presentation at GigaOM’s Structure Big Data conference in March, Tap11 Co-founder Braxton Woodham described the startup as an “Omniture of the real-time web” that companies can use to track what’s being said online about their brands in real-time (check out the video below). Tap11’s technology tracks specific topic mentions on Twitter and catalogs the information into searchable archives that companies can analyze. Tap11 has expressed plans to expand to other social platforms, but as evidenced by its sale to AVOS, the company’s technology is pretty impressive as is: With more than 140 million Tweets being posted daily, sifting intelligence from Twitter’s firehose is no small feat.

Together, the capabilities of Tap11 and Delicious could allow AVOS to build an analytical dashboard that companies can use to monitor everything that’s being said about their brands on the web. Understanding public sentiment is the Holy Grail for consumer product companies– Procter & Gamble (s PG) alone spends $350 million a year on market research– but even the most well-funded firms still conduct the majority of their studies offline with decades-old tools like panels and telephone surveys.

Recent deals such as Salesforce’s purchase of Radian6 (s crm) and Google’s acquisition of TalkBin indicate the tech industry’s big players have just started to see there’s an opportunity to make a lot of money by helping bring the market research industry into the Internet age. With the Tap11 deal, AVOS may be setting itself up to compete with some pretty heavy hitters.