Technology and market-research company BigChampagne LLC of Los Angeles is introducing a measurement tool called BCDash to let media companies quickly track how people — legally or illegally — use their products online.

While that information is available presently, it can be time-consuming to track down and isn’t usually compiled in one central report. The information gathered from multiple sources often comes too late to be useful. BigChampagne said BCDash will bring together data from partners including Time Warner Inc.’s AOL, Yahoo Inc.’s Yahoo Music, Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes, as well as traditional retailers with online stores such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. It will also incorporate estimates of illegal file sharing activity for specific titles.

With this knowledge, record labels and movie makers will be able to better market their products, said BigChampagne Chief Executive Officer Eric Garland.

"What we’re looking for is things that are bubbling up," he says — for example, if a music video is watched more in one part of the country or a song is played more on a particular music service. That information might alert a band that they need to add tour dates in a particular area, or flag a promotion opportunity on a certain Web site. For marketing budgets, "that really means spending less and spending smarter," he says.

Fees for BCDash, which builds on BigChampagne’s existing data services, will start at a few thousand dollars a month, depending on factors such as what information clients need and how many people at their companies will have access to it. The service will provide analysis and forecasts.

Trying to better understand how people use online content is a major reason why traditional media companies have made so many acquisitions in that arena lately, says Sameer Mithal, a principal at consulting firm Adventis. Recent deals include NBC Universal’s acquisition of iVillage and News Corp.’s acquisition of

Media companies have often been caught flat-footed when a video or song takes off online. By the time they try to capitalize on it, the opportunity often has passed. "Now, while you’re in the middle of promoting or marketing media, you’ll have all these indicators in place, by market," Mr. Garland says.

BigChampagne has clients such as movie studios, record labels and television companies. Its data have helped track how fast online piracy is encroaching on sales of movies, songs, and games, and they have helped push big entertainment companies to beef up their online profiles.