“Increasing access to digital intelligence for entire organizations is our biggest challenge”

Prerna Pant

Interview with Prerna Pant, General Manager at Circus Social, a social listening and analysis company based in Singapore

Hi Prerna, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Circus Social?

You could describe me as a storyteller; I started telling stories for brands very early in my career – and I have continued to do so till today. I’m a Co-Founder and General Manager at Circus Social. My role includes business development, operations, marketing and client management – and spans across all our products and offerings.

What differs Circus Social from other media intelligence companies in APAC?

To start with – we’re a company that was built ground up by marketers, for marketers. Too often we find that solutions are made for marketers by those who have not walked in those shoes before – and we wanted to change that. Secondly, we’re an Asia-first martech company. We were born and bred in Asia – meaning that we specialize in the APAC region in terms of language, sentiment, source and local coverage throughout the region, including Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Korea and more, and have a local grasp on culture and online behavior.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Circus Social when it comes to serving your customer analysis and developing your offer?

I think we face many of the same challenges that our competitors face in terms of data access, features and innovation. But personally – I believe the biggest challenge for us lies in increasing access to the world of digital intelligence – and taking it from the marketers’ ecosystem to the entire organization.

If any, what specific needs are there in your region for media intelligence that you think may differ from the rest of the world?

The greatest one is localization; this goes far beyond just language and platforms. The way in which consumers share product reviews on Pantip in Thailand is massively different from how Koreans behave on Naver, and it is the job of digital intelligence companies to identify and capitalize on this for our clients.

Do you find the region diverse in the sense that it is challenging to offer comprehensive products and services throughout the region? If so, in what way?

Each market comes with its own challenges, but I think that’s what makes it more exciting to work in this region. We have to keep learning, keep innovating and continue to challenge the status quo in each market. The initial entry into each market is typically the one we have to get right first, and once the foundation has been laid, it’s essential that we don’t drop the ball and continue to offer solutions that match the needs and nuances of each market.

Can you provide a specific example where one (or more) of your clients has made changes based on the insights or analysis you provided them? 

There are many capabilities that our platform, 20/Twenty, provides, ranging from crisis monitoring and campaign tracking, to consumer behavior and insights. I’ve found that getting that right from the very beginning and being a partner to your clients instead of being a service provider is what makes that difference.

We’ve worked with automobile brands that found that crisis situations were growing differently on social platforms vs. media sources – identified through custom features on 20/Twenty that allow you to track trending content by source type, spikes in conversations and specialized data tagging – and hence, they could easily measure actions and address problems once discovering this.

In a completely different setting, we helped an Asian supermarket understand why ‘mommy shoppers’ were declining rapidly through social listening on parenting forums and review sites. The main reason was that the width of the aisles in their grocery stores was too narrow to fit a pram – and hence aggravated mothers were dissuading others from shopping at their outlets.

The applications are obviously endless – it’s about getting to the insights quickly and more effectively.

Have you recently, or are you about to, release any new technology-based solutions that will add on to or improve services you offer your clients? If so, what solutions, and how will your customers benefit from them?

We have a lot of exciting features from a tech standpoint that will position us to be the leaders in viral content predictability and influencer identification. These are based on client requests and feedback, as is much of our tech roadmap.

When it comes to licensing content for media monitoring in your region, which countries are the most progressive and which are lagging behind?

Although we see this changing rapidly, markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia are certainly more comfortable and advanced with licensing data properly. This is feeding into other markets, such as Myanmar and Vietnam very quickly, and with early adopters setting the standard that new markets can follow.

Which social platforms are the most important to your clients, and which ones do you see as having the most potential in the future when it comes to gathering relevant information for your customers?

The importance of platforms changes by client, use case and industry; however, I also truly believe that you can’t ignore any of them today as conversations and people are very interlinked. For example, if your use case is reputation management – you must realize that a crisis can break anywhere, anytime. Similarly, I also always tell my clients that campaign periods aren’t the only time that consumers talk about you – it’s important to be ‘always on.’

When it comes to the actual data behind the media intelligence you do, what kind of data or media that you don’t currently use for media intelligence today, can be interesting in the future?

Expanding on image and video recognition and applying that to a variety of platforms is certainly interesting for us. We also see great potential in audience segmentation and predictive technology.

By Renata Ilitsky

“The analysis of the unstructured part of EHR will represent an essential contribution to advances in drug safety and effectivity”

Jose Gonzalez

Interview with Jose Gonzalez, CEO of MeaningCloud, a text analytics company based in New York City.

Hi Jose, what is your background and what are your responsibilities in your current role at MeaningCloud?

My background is in the field of Artificial Intelligence. I hold a Ph.D. from the Technical University of Madrid, where I entered as an assistant professor and researcher at the AI lab of the School of Telecommunication Engineering in 1985.

Years later, in 1998, I founded my first startup, Daedalus, along with other colleagues. We were developing and struggling to sell AI solutions twenty years ago, mainly in two areas, natural language processing and data mining. A good part of our activity consisted in developing our own technology, with the financial support of national and European research programs.

By then, we were dedicating 25% of our revenue to R&D. However, marketing and selling these solutions was tough. The game changed for us when we started deploying our text analytics solutions as a SaaS business on top of AWS in 2011.

Finally, in 2015 we decided to create a new company (MeaningCloud), incorporating new investors, merging Daedalus and starting a subsidiary in the US. My role as CEO of MeaningCloud involves managing every area of the company, from the technical product roadmap and HR, to business development and to finance.

What differs MeaningCloud from other text analytics companies?

There are a few differentiating elements in our offering; the first one is our deep semantic approach to truly “understand” and interpret any piece of text, extracting not only facts and sentiments, but relationships, beliefs, desires, and intent. It means that we rely on a linguistic approach, complemented with machine learning (including deep learning) to build base models and to generate candidate rules for human curation. This linguistic approach is essential to work in high-value information discovery scenarios, where precision is a must.

The second differentiator is what we call “vertical packs.” It means off-the-shelf industry-oriented solutions to address typical business or industry use cases.

The third one is customization; in Text Analytics, one size does not fit all. Therefore, we empower our customers to add their own dictionaries, classification schemes, and sentiment analysis rules.

MeaningCloud is originally a Spanish company, but opened an office in the US a few years back. How has that affected your business?

Three years after incorporating MeaningCloud in the US, we are getting 80% of our revenue out of Spain. Our most valuable customers are in the US. The movement has deeply affected every aspect of our work, starting with the motivation and the renewed ambition of our team, who feel like they are playing in a different league. We have made a special effort to recruit people from abroad, almost reaching 25% of non-Spanish nationals in the company.

What are your greatest challenges ahead for MeaningCloud when it comes to serving your customer analysis and developing your offer?

Our most valuable customers look for the extraction of very specific insights from any information source. The ability to develop tools to carry out this process for a particular purpose, with the required coverage and precision, and within acceptable time and costs, is our most important challenge today.

You work a lot with the pharmaceutical industry; can you please share what you do for them and how their needs differ from other industries when it comes to text analysis?

In pharma and healthcare, we address some general problems from the vantage point of having integrated and developed along the years a good amount of multilingual resources (medical terminology, thesauri, clinical codes) and tools to understand the health language. For instance, we have in place market intelligence solutions to unveil opportunities and threads in real time from digital sources.

A second area is pharmacovigilance (also called drug safety), the practice of monitoring the effects of medical drugs after they have been licensed for use, especially in order to identify and evaluate previously unreported adverse reactions. We apply text analytics to identify episodes of interaction between drugs, adverse effects, etc., from reported cases, specialized forums or scientific literature.

The third area is what we call “Voice of the Patient” analytics, a specialization of the more classic “Voice of the Customer” analytics, that we have been carrying out in retail, banking or telecom industries.

A promising new area that is currently under development is around “Real World Evidence.” RWE is information on healthcare that is derived from sources outside clinical research settings (the clinical trials carried out to obtain drug approval), including electronic health records (EHRs), claims and billing data, product and disease registries, and data gathered through personal devices and health applications.

Automatic analysis of such sources allows us to know how specific drugs perform within different population groups, in patients showing differences in disease severity conditions that require other medications, in long-term treatments, etc.

How has your clients’ perception about what text analysis can do for them changed over the years?

In the past, it was difficult convincing our customers in business areas about the effectiveness and integrability of the technology. On the other side, our customer’s IT departments were afraid of integration risks and costs. This situation changed utterly years ago with the availability of SaaS solutions. These days, our business customers play with our text analytics functions inside their own Excel spreadsheets, and technical users just call our APIs in their software environment seamlessly, whatever it is.

Have you recently, or are you about to, release any new technology-based solutions that will add or improve services for your clients? If so, what solutions, and how will your customers benefit from them?

We follow a roadmap for continuous improvement of the functionality and usability of our technology. Last month, a new API was added  to our offering, the “Deep Categorization API.” It is a solution for assigning one or more categories to a text by finding snippets that match advanced semantic patterns and contexts expressed in a powerful (but simple) language made with macros and rules.

This technology has allowed us to market new services, our vertical packs. Vertical packs are solutions intended for specific industries. The first four packs are for the analysis of the Voice of the Customer (including different flavors for the retail, banking and insurance scenarios) and for Voice of the Employee analytics.

Regarding languages, in a few weeks, we will be publishing the Nordic Package, to add Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish to our current language offering. Chinese, Hindi, Arabic and Russian will follow shortly.

Finally, Summarization and Document Structure Analysis APIs will incorporate substantial improvements before the summer.

Is “fake news” a big issue for the text analysis that you do? If so, what are the challenges for the analysis you do for your customers, and how do you cope with them? 

We all know how difficult filtering noise is, in general, in social media. This noise may appear in many different ways, vacuous, idiotic, fanatic, insulting, manipulative or merely as false messages.

However, this landscape does not differ too much from what happens already in offline media. Depending on the nature of our work and the purpose of a particular client, we may be forced to filter out some kind of noise, but we cannot tell, obviously, if an individual piece of news is truthful or not. The only means to do that involves analyzing the origin and the spreading mechanisms of information across networks, something that we are not currently doing.

Regarding this topic, I would first rely on education. As educated digital citizens, we should develop abilities to distinguish honest, reliable, sensible and relevant sources of information and opinion.

When it comes to the actual data behind the text analysis that you do, what kind of data or media can be interesting in the future that you don’t analyze today?

I would bet on Electronic Health Records. What we do now is on a minimum scale. On May 6th, the US National Institute for Health has launched the research program “All of Us,” whose aim is getting one million volunteers to contribute their physical, genomic and electronic health record data. It is the starting signal for the most relevant “Precision Medicine Initiative” so far. The analysis of the unstructured part of EHR will represent an essential contribution to advances in drug safety and effectivity.

How do you think the text analysis industry will change in the next 5 years, and what are the greatest challenges ahead?

The long-term challenges (beyond five years) have to do with our ability to interpret any communication act, such as discovering, reasoning and reacting on facts, beliefs, emotions, desires, intentions, and values of people and artificial agents. Despite the current hype on Artificial Intelligence, we are still far, far away from that goal.

How do you foresee the changes and developments for MeaningCloud over the next 5 years?

We will keep on following our dream, which is going deeper and deeper in extracting the meaning of all kinds of unstructured content. The next step will be a more powerful approach to the extraction of relationships from text. Stay tuned!

By Renata Ilitsky

“Fake news is the biggest problem of our day”

Halef Remzi Vayıs

Interview with Halef Remzi Vayıs, General Manager at MTM, Medya Takip Merkezi, a media intelligence company in Turkey.

Hi Halef, what is your background and what is included in your current role at MTM?

Our company was founded about 20 years ago. I am a founding partner and a general manager of MTM. We have opened 6 branches in various cities in Turkey, and have set up a local company in Azerbaijan. We currently service 1000 customers with 120 employees. Turkey’s most important companies work with us.

Our company consists of 8 main sections, where I serve as president and the directors of the sections forming our governing body. The establishment operates dynamically and keeps the pulse of the industry in the world. It responds to the renewed needs of our customers and ensures that the developing technology is included in our business. We follow trends, respond to new demands and develop products that will lead to new demands. We work to spend our money rationally by making the right investments. We organize events to educate and improve our human resources, and we participate in events organized outside. I also undertake all these tasks and responsibilities together with them as part of the team.

What differs MTM from other media intelligence companies in Turkey?

Our most important difference is our innovative construction; our vision is always fresh and up-to-date. This enables our customers to quickly integrate with changing and evolving services around the world. Our sector’s customers are naturally a group that stands out from all sorts of social developments. In other words, if there is a development in the country and in the world, this sector is seen first, it tries, it lives. So, they like to work with an innovative and dynamic company.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at MTM when it comes to serving your customer analysis and developing your offer?

The biggest paradox is the “quality service and low price” equation. I think this does not affect just our country, but many countries, especially sectors with high competition where the customer wants high quality, complete and fast services, while paying less for it. When you have to upgrade the service quality, but that can’t affect the price, this causes your profit margins to fall. You can reduce your margins up to some extent, of course, but sometimes you come to a point where the customer is stuck between choosing a quality service or a low price.

If any, what specific needs are there in the Turkish market for media intelligence that you think differs from the rest of the world?

I do not think there is a big difference in expectations from the media monitoring service. They want us to use every possible opportunity as a resource, and quickly provide the analysis to them. One of our mottos is “to deliver the most intelligent information in the fastest way.”

According to your clients, what are the most important sources of information to monitor about their company and brand?

It depends on the product and the company. As the transition between traditional media and social media continues, understanding is shaped accordingly. According to some, social media is a balloon, and it is more valuable to follow traditional media. Some customers pay more attention to the impact of digital and social media. In short, we can say that the counterpart, supposed to be under the influence of the brand or the target volume of the product, is accepted as the source by the customer.

Which social platforms or sources do you see as having the most potential in the future when it comes to gathering relevant information for your customers?

Obviously, I do not think it would be very realistic to give a specific name because in today’s world everything can happen. Facebook’s “Cambridge Analytica” issue is an example for this. However, digital and social platforms have a high potential as a source of information and will continue to be.

Have you recently, or are you about to, release any new technology-based solutions that will add to or improve services you offer clients? If so, what solutions and how will your customers benefit from them?

Of course we always want to do new things 🙂 We develop our own systems with our 18-person software and technical team. We have a research and development department. We do our own hosting with 30 servers and storage.

We also collaborate with international companies such as PerVoice, Talkwalker and Twingly, who provide technical and information support. This kind of support eliminates our shortcomings and provides new perspectives and facilities to our customers.

Is “fake news” a big issue in your region? If so, what are the challenges media intelligence and monitoring companies face and how do you cope with it?

Fake news is the biggest problem of our day, but I think this is not the current issue of media monitoring companies. Our task is to find and bring what is published. I repeat: Find out what is published, even if it is fake. Because this fake news can be a result that needs to be dealt with.

On the other hand, solutions for news that are not true can be developed by companies like us as a new product. This product can capture and report fake news. However, we have not encountered such a demand until now. We do not have any systems yet to identify fake news.

Some media intelligence companies have recently moved up the value chain, providing their clients with content within PR and Advertising. Have you been moving in that direction recently, or would it be interesting to do so?

Our business mostly focuses on reporting and measuring PR practices. We don’t focus on content support.

How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next 5 years, and what are the greatest challenges ahead?

As we all know, the media is changing shell every day and will continue to change. As various platforms and publishing equipment enter our lives, the media increases, so media monitoring has already turned into big data. The biggest problems of our day are the fake news and the privacy of private life. The steps and arrangements of the authorities of the countries will also determine the direction of our work. But I anticipate that our work will become more important in every situation as long as we can do more precise and attentive works.

How do you see that MTM will have changed and developed over the next 5 years?

MTM has always been ambitious since its founding, and will continue to be so. Five years from now, it will be easier for us to reach both current and archive intelligent knowledge. At that time, we will want to be called a “smart data company” rather than a “technology company” like now.

By Renata Ilitsky

“Our greatest challenge is to have apples to apples comparisons across various data points from all social data platforms”

Rich Calabrese

Interview with Rich Calabrese, EVP, General Manager at Fizziology, a global audience insights company in the US.

Hi Rich, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Fizziology?

I currently serve as the EVP, General Manager at Fizziology. I’ve worked for Fizziology for 6 years, and have worn many hats along the way as we’ve grown our company to where it is today. Today, my role is to oversee company operations, work alongside our co-founders to plot a strategic roadmap for the company, and to work with and develop new client relationships.

What differs Fizziology from other audience insight companies?

Fizziology takes a human approach to our research. We combine our proprietary technology with human analysts to spot trends and ensure accuracy. Our clients appreciate the human-touch, and the confidence they feel knowing they have dedicated analysts working on their behalf every day to provide insight into their social conversation and the audiences.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Fizziology when it comes to serving your customers insight and developing your offer?

The greatest challenge we have is the desire from our customers to have apples to apples comparisons across various data points from all social data platforms. I believe all social media researchers and data scientists would love consistent data points across the social landscape, but that will likely never happen. Our challenge is to continue to communicate the strengths and weaknesses of the available social data from each platform, while educating our clients on how to appropriately use them in order to turn insight into action.

Fizziology has recently been acquired by MarketCast; in what way will that affect your business?

Our recent acquisition by MarketCast will further solidify the credibility of our company in the media and entertainment industry. While both companies work in research, we offer a different and complementary methodology and product set, which allows us to work together seamlessly to support our clients and provide an offering that’s holistic and unique to our industry – and new industries we target.

You are targeting the entertainment industry; what specific needs do your clients have compared to general companies in other industries?

Fizziology does work with brands, as well as with clients in the sports and travel and tourism industries; however, the media and entertainment industry is an important focus for our company. In the media and entertainment industry, the product is ever-changing. New movies get announced and then released, new TV shows get picked up, extended or cancelled – it’s a dynamic industry. Outside of major franchises or long-running TV shows, we don’t service the same “product” year after year. Our “products” change every year, which brings new and unique marketing questions for our team to try and answer.

Can you provide a specific example where one (or more) of your clients have made changes based on the insights or analysis you provided?

Unfortunately, I’m under too many NDAs to share specifics; however, to provide a few examples, our research is used to adjust trailer and TV creative, respond to crises, refine media spend, obtain conversations insights by audience, and to evaluate future performance through benchmarking and predictive analytics.

In what countries do you support clients today, and what are the challenges when it comes to scaling your services to markets outside of the US?

We currently provide social media research and audience insights in 13 markets (and counting). Our human-first methodology is consistent with our international research, as we work with in-market analysts and translators to ensure accurate cultural interpretation and understanding of the social conversation in each market. Working with a large team scattered in various time zones, our biggest challenge is communication; however, new tools have made it easier for us to communicate and stay up to speed on client requests.

How has your client’s perception of social media intelligence changed over time?

One of the observations I’ve started to see over the last year is how accepting the C-Suite is to using social data to guide strategy and response. It’s gone from “nice to know” to “need to know.” In years past, this wasn’t the case, and with good reason. I’ve heard stories from clients who were burned by snake oil social media salesmen.  These people needed to be reintroduced and convinced of its validity and accepting of methodology. I believe those social data companies that are still pushing the limits on their technology while communicating their role in the social data landscape are the companies that have found success over the last few years.

Have you recently, or are you about to, release any new solutions that will add or improve your services for your clients?

We’ve just released technology to our clients that is focused on the user – and not on the message. This allows our clients to segment audiences (and their conversations) by their behavior (frequency of conversation) within the brand conversation or by what other Fizziology datasets those audiences also exist in (Fizziology has over 400 billion social data points). This will allow our clients to see when new users talk about their brand for the first time, segment audiences by “diehard,” “beginner,” or even “comic book” fans, and finally, understand where their target audience(s) also exist in Fizziology’s expansive database of over 4,500 tracked films, TV, brands, sports teams, and talent to paint a holistic audience profile.

Which social platforms are the most important to your clients, and which ones do you see as having the most potential in the future when it comes to gathering relevant information?

There’s not one platform that’s more important; it’s about having multi-platform analysis. Our clients want to be sure that we’re looking at each platform online where their audiences are talking to ensure we’re spotting opportunities and challenges. Of all the social platforms that our clients want more from, it has to be Facebook. The platform serves our clients’ owned pages and the ad campaign analytics business very well; however, we’re working tirelessly with Twingly’s offering to offer organic conversation analysis (conversations happening off-owned pages and ad buys) to uncover the audience insights our clients are looking for. However, due to restrictions, we’re not given demographic information that would make the insights richer.

How do you think the media intelligence and audience insights industry will change in the next 5 years, and what are the greatest challenges in that space?

We’ll definitely see change; however, it’s hard to be specific as I think everyone will pivot based on data availability and internal advancements of their own technology.  As a company that focuses on social data that we analyze from the organic social conversation (conversation/engagement off client owned social accounts), I hope to see social platforms create audience data offerings centered on audiences that are sharing content outside of a brand’s owned social accounts.

By Renata Ilitsky

“Vendors of media intelligence solutions will become brokers of information and insights”

Bastian Karweg

Interview with Bastian Karweg, CEO of Echobot Media Technologies in Germany.

Hi Bastian, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Echobot?

Before founding Echobot, I built and sold a media company in the gaming industry and started the second biggest press release distribution service in Germany. At 33 years old, I hold a master’s degree in informational engineering from KIT.edu, where I still give lectures from time to time about internet law and startup economics.

At Echobot I’m responsible for sales, marketing and finance, whereas my cofounder, Jannis Breitwieser, heads up development and customer success. In terms of product development, we collaborate because we both love elegant engineering and innovative user experience.

What differs Echobot from other media intelligence companies?

I’d say that Echobot is definitely more SMB and B2B focused than other vendors. Many of our clients are from the German “Mittelstand,” which values accurate results and ease of use over fancy analytics.

Also, we believe that aggregation of results is only part of the solution; Echobot invests heavily in building up a semantic layer above the text. Our technology really understands which events are happening and who is affected. This opens up a whole lot of exciting possibilities in the future, like intelligent business assistants!

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Echobot when it comes to serving customers insights and developing your offer?

Since we are mostly self-funded, keeping up with our own growth has posed a challenge. The usual growing pains like finding the right talent, scaling our tech or completing projects like our Salesforce integration come to mind.

In terms of customers, an increasing amount of companies feel the need to incorporate data and insights from public sources into their business processes, yet almost everybody has a different approach. So, we offer a lot of guidance and best practices help navigate to the best solutions.

Your solution addresses many parts of your clients’ companies. Can you tell us how Echobot can enhance the performance of a sales team?

Sure, Echobot started out as a solution for PR and marketing teams doing press clipping and social media analytics, yet our solutions for sales and customer development have really gained a lot of momentum.

Basically, the better the information about your client or prospect is, the more deals you are able to close. Echobot helps sales reps  identify the right targets, triggers at the best time to engage and also notifies you if there are relevant changes to entities in your pipeline. It’s an automated sales assistant so you don’t have to google everything yourself.

Can you give a specific example where one of your clients have made changes in their communication, marketing plan or similar, based on the insights or analysis you provided to them?

The very first example that sparked this development is still my favorite story: A vendor of forklifts was in search of new prospects and asked us to identify upcoming constructions of warehouses. In the beginning, we used simple phrase search queries, such as “new warehouse,” but this quickly became very complex so we introduced our machine learning intelligence technology to automatically identify such events as well as the companies associated with such projects. The resulting prospect lists gave the clients an instant double-digit boost in their sales productivity.

You have invested a lot in machine learning; how has that improved your services?

Machine learning is the biggest game changer to any industry in recent years. It allows you to automate tedious manual tasks with near perfect precision and dig through millions of data points to find hidden patterns that you’d never have uncovered otherwise.

To be more specific, we have almost entirely automated our quality control tasks of classifying new media sources. Also our sales solutions which detect so called “business signals” regarding events of great opportunity or risks would not have been possible without this technological advances.

Have you recently, or are you about to, release any new solutions that will add or improve services offered to your clients? If so, what solutions are they, and how will your customers benefit from them?

Everybody who has used a media monitoring solution knows that one of the biggest challenges lies in crafting a complex search agent to reliably match relevant results while at the same time filtering out unwanted spam.

We are currently in development of an intelligent agent which is much better at highlighting precisely the right results a customer is actually looking for. I’m confident that this algorithm will greatly assist the work of human experts.

You are collecting a lot of your own data today; what are the greatest challenges in doing that?

Hosting all our servers in Germany has been a very conscious decision to comply with the very high standards of German data protection laws that our customers demand. Also, we like to be in control of business-critical systems ourselves and not rely on external vendors.

Yet, managing this many crawlers and an index of almost 10 billion documents is no easy feat. The biggest challenges are necessary infrastructure changes that cannot affect our 24/7 service-level. Luckily Moore’s law as well as new big data technologies keep our costs at a predictable level.

Which social platforms are the most important to your clients, and which ones do you see as having the most potential in the future when it comes to gathering relevant information for your customers?

Currently this would be Facebook for B2C customers and the German XING for B2B focused companies. Yet we see incredible demand for Instagram and also LinkedIn is closing in fast in the business space.

When it comes to the actual data behind media monitoring that you do, what kind of data or media can be interesting in the future that you don’t currently use?

I believe that in the future the actual message itself will be much more important than the medium / channel that you get it from.

You might see this development more easily in the space of web searches; while in the past you would have typed “height Eiffel Tower” into the Google search bar to get a list of websites, today you can just ask Siri or Alexa and they will tell you that it is 300m. Echobot is, as far as I know, the only service focused on building up this kind of meta level data today.

How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next 5 years, and what are the greatest challenges?

In an increasingly digital society, vendors of media intelligence solutions will become brokers of information and insights. It is simply not feasible for the client to manually research, classify and analyze information anymore. Therefore, the need for our services will only increase.

Yet, the whole industry is facing a lot of challenges:

  • From a legal perspective, there are licensing fees, data privacy concerns and the whole ancillary copyright debate.
  • Vendors will need to address the questions about trust of sources and “fake news.”
  • The ever-increasing restrictions of access to popular platforms, paywalls, dedicated mobile apps and “walled gardens” will change who is able to offer which media coverage.
  • Strong convergence towards video content will give rise to new solutions and technology startups for speech and image recognition technology.
  • Language barriers will decrease, especially towards Asian markets due to better translation technology and continuous economic growth in the east.

By Renata Ilitsky

Twingly adds 3 million news articles per day

Apart from being the leading supplier of global blog data, we have launched our News APIs with over 3 million articles per day from over 110,000 active news sources. This will give you the vastest coverage of global news available in the market today.

Whether you need monitoring of 8,400 news sources in Italy, keeping track of 33,000 articles per day from Japanese news media or cover the greatest news sources in the US, we’ve got it!

We understand that you and your clients need to be on top of the breaking news. That is why the average latency is only 8 minutes from an article being published until you can access it in the APIs.

For you to be able to compare your current coverage of news data, we have made our coverage in the major countries publicly available. Just let us know if you need any input regarding coverage in other countries.

This news data offering complements our current API services that include monitoring of over 5.4 million active blogs globally and forum data with 3 million posts per day.

If you want to try our News APIs, please just sign up on our site for an instant API key or contact us if you have any questions or thoughts.

By Pontus Edenberg

“There is a lot of room for disruptions in the media intelligence industry”

Carlos Alfredo Diaz

Interview with Carlos Alfredo Diaz, General Manager at GlobalNews Group in Argentina.

Hi Carlos, what is your background and what is included in your current role at GlobalNews Group?

I have more than 6 years of experience in Media Monitoring and a previous background in tech startups. In my current role as General Manager of GlobalNews Group, I oversee our day-to-day regional operations as well as execute our long term strategic plans.

What differs GlobalNews Group from other media intelligence companies in Latin America?

The fact that we are the only media intelligence company that covers the whole region in its entirety is certainly a distinguishing factor. We are also renowned for our extensive investment and proficiency in R+D related to AI.

What are the greatest challenges ahead for GlobalNews Group when it comes to providing customer analysis and developing your offer?

Currently our greatest challenges in those two areas are related to the normalization of datasets and sources, as well as the need to educate our client base in order to develop truly useful offerings.

You are operating in 17 countries in Latin America; do you find it challenging to offer comprehensive products and services throughout the region because the region is diverse? If so, in what way?

Offering a limited set of products in a very diversified region is quite challenging; all our products have specific adaptations created by our “localization team” for each market in which they are sold.

Have you recently, or do you plan to, release any new technology based solutions that will add to or improve services you offer to clients? If so, what solutions, and how will they benefit your clients?

We have recently launched an updated version of our website that will allow different customizations for our clients (such as recipes and integrations with a plethora of services), and are currently working on a suite of predictive tools that will allow our clients to both receive recommendations as to which topics matter to their bottom line as well as predict the impact a release might or should (as in benchmarking) have in the current media context.

Are you using the AMEC framework with your clients? If so, how has that improved your clients’ understanding of measurement?

We are currently using the AMEC framework with each and every new analysis client we have. It has helped our clients better visualize and understand the relationship between their work and their bottom line.

You are monitoring many sources yourself in your markets today; what are your greatest challenges when it comes to upholding and developing your own monitoring?

Upholding and developing your own monitoring requires a great deal of capital investment and oversight, but is sometimes needed when a company has requirements as diverse as ours.

When it comes to licensing content for media monitoring in Latin America, which countries are the most progressive, and which are lagging behind?

Brazil is currently the only country where the issue has even appeared, the rest of the region is impervious to it. I believe that licensing has to become a reality in Latin America in the next 10 years.

When it comes to the actual data behind the media intelligence that you do, what kind of data or media can be interesting in the future that you currently do not utilize?

Whatsapp and Telegram would be very interesting to monitor, at least from a macro standpoint.

How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next 5 years, and what are the greatest challenges ahead?

I believe there is a lot of room for disruptions by new players or old players that will reinvent themselves, especially as our space becomes more and more focused on technology.

By Renata Ilitsky

“The media intelligence industry will need to quickly grow their insights and advisory skills”

Francois van Dyk

Interview with Francois van Dyk, Head of Operations at Ornico Group in South Africa

Hi Francois, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Ornico Group?

I studied, taught and worked in Public Relations – having a passion for the journalism, advertising and marketing fields. In my role as Head: Operations at Ornico, I am blessed to work not only in the journalism and PR fields, but also in advertising and social media. I oversee all the Ornico divisions which monitor and analyses editorial, advertising and social media content across various platforms such as TV, radio, outdoor, online, social, print, mobile and even direct marketing. I also serve on AMEC’s Education Committee as well as the IAB South Africa’s Measurement Council.

What do you see as the greatest challenges ahead for Ornico Group when it comes to serving your customers monitoring and analysis and in developing your offer?

The fragmentation of the media space is an obvious challenge as you need to access far more data sources. However the true challenge will come from a data integration perspective – and this includes the client data. To make true sense of data, one will need to integrate media and customer, financial, employee and a myriad of other data in a sensible way. Customers interact with brands across many touch points, not just the media space, and great insights become possible if these disparate data can be combined and analyzed.

Why did you choose to expand your business to Nigeria and Kenya, countries that are quite remote from South Africa?

As our South African clients started expanding their businesses to the rest of the African continent, it was a natural fit for us to move with them as we could provide them with the same services. Kenya is obviously a major player in East Africa, and Nigeria in West Africa, so it makes sense to establish a presence in these regions. Despite tough global economic conditions, a lot of opportunities remain in Africa.

Do you have any specific plans to expand your business in the near future, like opening new markets or offering new products?

We are continuously building relationships across the world with other industry players through our FIBEP and AMEC partnerships, so this has proved very valuable. From a geographical perspective, we will be focusing on this – depending on client demand obviously. We are, however, continuously trying to innovate and improve the client experience so innovative functionalities and services always remain a priority.

All clients have different levels of understanding how media can be analyzed; what is the most common misconception that your clients have?

Though we are working hard to educate clients about the best practices, such as AMEC’s Barcelona Principles, you do find that some are still only interested in AVEs (Advertising Value Equivalents). It astounds me that anyone would be looking at these “values,” as they are fundamentally flawed and wrong. It pains me personally because this behavior by some public relations practitioners is actually very damaging to an industry I am very passionate about.

What is the current situation for licensing content for media monitoring in South Africa? Is the agreement between SAMMA and DALRO still in effect, and does it cover all aspects?

The agreement between DALRO and SAMMA is still in place, although there are negotiations to update it. SAMMA members are very happy to have a central organization to deal with when it comes to copyright fees, but everyone believes a lot more can be done to make membership, payments, distribution and value more streamlined and comprehensive.

Are there specific or typical needs in the South African market for media intelligence that you think differs from the rest of the region, or the world in general?

Our markets are relatively the same as the rest of the world. Our biggest challenge is really to keep services very cost effective as our clients generally do not have the budgets a lot of the international brands have.

Which social platforms are the most important to your clients, and which ones do you see having the most potential in the future when it comes to gathering relevant information for your customers?

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are the main social platforms, while there is a great demand for LinkedIn information as well. Facebook, due to its global dominance, will obviously remain very important. Snapchat and other smaller channels have seen very little local adoption at this stage, so it remains to be seen what influence they will have in the African markets. Whatsapp, Wechat and other messaging services are also hugely popular. As social channels tighten access to data due to privacy legislation and their own commercial interests, I suspect it will become a far bigger challenge for brands to gain independent insights.

What kind of data that would help you get better analysis is the hardest to get hold of?

There is obviously a massive amount of data being created – and not all of it is confined in the media space. For proper measurement and evaluation to be conducted, we will need access to a far wider amount of data, and not just from the media space. Clients sit with masses of internal data, whether it is CRM data, sales figures, expenses, marketing, Google Analytics, etc,. which are all in their own silos. Combining relevant data like this with traditional media data to create insights will become a very powerful tool. It is understandably very sensitive data for a brand, which they will not part with easily; hence we have seen the need to grow traditional media intelligence into a more advisory partnership with clients. One can expect a lot of growth in this space.

What kind of data or media that you do not have monitoring on today, can be interesting in the future?

The proliferation of media is an obvious challenge to the media intelligence industry, so I believe the industry will need to find ways to monitor all these new channels. However, as media becomes personalized and a more on-demand service, the audience will also become even more critical. I have long believed that the communication industry has been too obsessed with specific media channels and communication “outputs” in what they would consider ‘vanity” media that many have forgotten about their audiences. The audience will be key in the future.

How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next five years?

Traditional monitoring is relatively stagnant across the world, so the media intelligence industry will need to quickly grow their insights and advisory skills. Major investments will also need to be made into machine learning, artificial intelligence and data sciences. As The Economist recently said “data is the new oil,” but what will give the media intelligence industry an edge over the big technology players will be the human element – both from a client services and an advisory perspective. People do business with people, and this is a fundamental principle that will remain through time.

By Renata Ilitsky

“There will no longer be a few media monitoring companies in a given country because monitoring will become diversified”

Paweł Sanowski

Interview with Paweł Sanowski, President of IMM, a media monitoring company in Poland and Romania.

Hi Paweł, what is your background and what is included in your current role at IMM?

When I started my adventure with the Institute of Media Monitoring in 2000, I had already had experience in different business sectors. Among others, I was in charge of standardization of the sales chain of the second largest insurance company in Poland – Warta SA. I was also responsible for preparing and finalizing the sale of Partner SA insurance company (acquired by Trygg Hansa). Additionally, I worked in an investment fund company, where I was co-responsible for the supervision of several firms from different branches of the industry.

I co-founded IMM from scratch in 2004, and yet, after five years, we became the largest media monitoring company in Poland, and have been strengthening this position ever since. In 2004, I also started the Internet portal, PRoto, dedicated to the PR industry in Poland. In the middle of 2008, we bought a media monitoring company in Romania – MediaTrust. Ever since, we have increased sales there by 11 times, and in 2015 we became the leaders in the second-largest CEE market.

I try to popularize knowledge about business intelligence, media analyses and the image of individuals and companies at the best Polish universities, like The Warsaw School of Economics and The London School of Public Relations.

I have managed the IMM group since the very beginning; however my role changes as the organization evolves. Currently, I rely more on the work of a fantastic team of co-workers that I have created over the past several years. My duties are very diverse, just like those of most of the heads of companies that employ a few hundred people.

What differs IMM from other media intelligence companies in the countries you are active in, Poland and Romania?

Both IMM and MediaTrust operate in line with the Media360 idea. Our media monitoring tools enable us to comprehensively analyse, research and control communication in all types of media – traditional (press, radio, TV, websites) and social media (blogs, forums, social networks, also photo and video).

Apart from media monitoring, we also have a vast spectrum of tools dedicated to communication specialists. For marketers, we offer monitoring of advertisements, for PR professionals, we offer a contact base for journalists integrated with online press offices, for social media managers from small companies, we offer a tool for autonomous social listening.

Comprehensiveness of the supplied services and tools helpful to a whole, generally understood communication industry, is undoubtedly IMM’s distinctive market quality. The second distinguishing feature that most frequently mentioned by our customers is the high quality of our services and analytical products .

What are your greatest challenges ahead at IMM when it comes to serving your customer monitoring and analysis, and develop your offer?

Continuous evolution of communication in social media, emergence of new platforms, migrations of consumers between media, increasing inflow of video and photo content, ability to provide media monitoring results in real time and the existence of ephemeral Snapchat-like content are the challenges ahead of the whole media monitoring industry.

Unceasing work on refining tools for collecting and analysing different contents has always been a priority for IMM. Currently, however, the dynamic of changes is much higher and the needs uttered by our customers play an important role in the process. PR specialists are increasingly aware of the benefits derived from the use of media monitoring for planning, carrying out and evaluating the effects of work in media. This, in turn, encourages us to develop further gauges and methods of measuring the communication activities.

Many young companies that specialise in Internet monitoring and the resulting price pressure are additional market challenges.

Do you have any specific plans to expand your business in the near future, like expanding to new markets or offering new products?

We are a family company, and as such, our activities do not carry too much risk. We always analyse potential acquisition opportunities both in Poland and in other countries. What’s important to us is continuous change, even if that includes small changes introduced to the offer or technologies – the continuous modifications make us stand out in the Polish media monitoring market.

Can you give a specific example where one (or more) of your clients has made changes in their communication, organization or similar, based on the information or analysis you provided?

I cannot disclose details that are confidential to our customers. Frequently, such changes result from media crisis situations which were effectively managed thanks to IMM media monitoring or the analysis of effectiveness of the conducted promotional activities based on which a decision was taken to stop, or, quite the contrary, to strengthen specific forms of activities, such as sponsorships.

What I can share is the information about a non-standard use of our media reports. One of the most interesting recent instances was performing a cross-sectional analysis of characteristics and media presence of a specific target group. The report constituted specific instructions for a customer, pinpointing for him where to invest his time and communication budget, and also what type of media communication to use to make it effective.

Analysis of the potential of sports sponsorships is another interesting example. Based on media presence of specific stadiums, a customer was able to make a decision on a sponsorship cooperation.

Sometimes media monitoring takes a more utilitarian form – our pharmaceutical customers use social media posts of patients as an additional element of reporting side effects.

Changes also take place on a meta-level. For several years we have monitored media citing other media. Throughout this time, our report has grown as the opinion-forming benchmark for media in Poland and the results of our ranking have had an influence on media outlets and media strategies more than once.

What kind of data or media that you don’t have monitoring on today, can be interesting in the future?

All social media platforms develop their streaming channels and live options. Facebook develops Messenger to adjust it to B2C communication. In addition, Snapchat raised the bar and provoked demand for content that disappear after some time, a functionality already introduced by Instagram and tested by Facebook. We assume that if customers find these forms of publications important to them, we will have to broaden the offering to include these non-standard channels.

You are a member of FIBEP; what are the benefits of being a part of organizations like that?

Undoubtedly a big advantage of FIBEP membership is the constant contact and sharing the experiences with entities of similar nature, as well as challenges. It’s easier to generate new solutions in a group or to cooperate on solving a problem that many of its members face. It’s also important to have the ability to inspire each other with each other’s solutions and sharing tips. FIBEP membership also enhances a supplier’s credibility in the eyes of customers. IMM has been in the FIBEP’s structures since it started.

What more could FIBEP contribute that would benefit your business?

FIBEP creates a range of opportunities, but not everybody uses them. FIBEP is a platform that helps achieve a lot, given a significant dedication. From my perspective, I would expect more of best practices presentations and more frequent workshop meetings.

How do you think the monitoring and media intelligence industry will change in the next 5 years?

I think that the situation gets complicated. There will no longer be a few media monitoring companies in a given country because monitoring will be diversified. There will be many market players – global and international companies that provide media monitoring SaaS-tools. There will be local companies – small and large – that will try to combine a range of the monitoring-related elements and analyses. We will see the emergence of the market linked with the monitoring that will supply a range of analyses and tools for business. There will be new areas of operations for media monitoring companies, but they will be low-margin and highly competitive.

I am glad to be working in an industry that evolves so quickly because it forces us to move forward and to look for new solutions, which boosts our energy. It gives me the impression that I’m not aging, and that I’m still young.

By Renata Ilitsky

“The pace of disruption to the media intelligence over the next five years will be enormous”

Sean Smith

Interview with Sean Smith, Chief Executive – Media Intelligence at Isentia, Australia and Vice President of FIBEP.

Hi Sean, what is included in your current role at Isentia?

As Chief Executive of Media Intelligence, I am responsible for overseeing the delivery of media intelligence services to 5,000 clients across APAC. My role comes with the usual P&L responsibilities, but ultimately it is about ensuring Isentia remains the market leader and we continue to push for better solutions, products and services for our clients that allow them to stay ahead of the curve.

Outside of my role at Isentia, I am also the current Vice President and Board Member for FIBEP, global association for media intelligence.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Isentia when it comes to serving your customers analysis and develop your offer?

Giving our clients the right information at the right time; whether it be the first to alert them to breaking news or the delivery of an Insights report that shows the impact of their actions on a story. Our clients are now operating in a media world that is 24/7 and unrelenting. For example, Isentia now ingests around 284 new stories every second. Our challenge is to make sense of all that noise and velocity, and provide our clients with the key information that they need to know.

The challenge is only getting harder, but working in an organisation where our culture is engrained in all things media and being the best, is the challenge we love to answer.

Isentia acquired the content marketing agency King Content in 2015. How has that changed the focus of Isentia’s business proposition?

For quite some time now, Isentia has been looking at how we can work across owned, earned and paid media. Our media intelligence offering has allowed us to play a key role in confirming when something happens and making sense of what it all means for our clients. With content marketing, we can now answer the “what’s next?” question by devising a content strategy that will help brands tell their story and connect with the right audience. Content is nothing without the right strategy. By having robust media intelligence that allows for greater opportunities to uncover unique and timely insights, we can provide the strategic thinking our clients need to connect with their clients through content and change conversations.

The acquiring of King Content is a step further on in the value chain. Does this mean that there are other parts of your business that come further away from generating value, which you are planning to outsource?

Outsourcing has been key to our strategy long before the acquisition of King Content. The media intelligence industry is moving so quickly that we are always looking to expand on the value we can give to our clients. Sourcing for functions outside our core business is one way that we can achieve that as it means we can spend more time thinking and executing new ideas for the parts of the Isentia business that matter most and give key clear points of difference.

APAC is a quite diverse region. What are your main challenges to offer comprehensive products and services throughout the region?

APAC is the fastest growing region in the world, and as you note, highly diverse. The challenge is ensuring we are offering a personalised experience and services tailored to the needs of each country. No two countries look the same. Local knowledge matters and is key to success.

Business culture is unique, and while you need to find ways to adapt, to be successful in APAC, you must balance this investment into the development of your own culture, infrastructure and people.

The media intelligence landscape in Asia Pac is also made more complex by the challenges with language and local markets being highly fragmented.

You are currently Vice President of FIBEP. What are the most important things that an organization like FIBEP can contribute?

Ensuring the industry can continue to evolve and stay relevant. Our industry has players that have their roots as a press clipping agency right through to our newest members that are SaaS platforms and thinking about media content as a data set that can be overlaid with other data sources and smart analytics. It is this diversity in the membership that shows just how fast our industry is changing and the important role that FIBEP can play in helping members to change and continue to be successful.

FIBEP holds an annual conference, which is an important event – the learnings come not only from the key note speakers, but also from the valuable networking that takes place over three days, or should I say three nights!

How do you think or hope FIBEP’s role will evolve in the future?

I hope to see FIBEP continue to explore the changing market trends and best practices so that the media intelligence industry can be progressive or be at the forefront of innovation. To do this, we will need to attract new members. Diversity of our members and the ideas that will evolve our industry will be key, so too is embracing change. FIBEP, through its activities and leadership, will play a role in guiding this, but also connecting the industry with the necessary change agents to help inspire members as they continue to move through this journey.

When it comes to the actual data behind the media intelligence that you do, what kind of data or media that you do not use for media intelligence today, can be interesting in the future?

Podcasts and closed, “dark social” messenger apps are great examples of sources that aren’t typically utilised in media intelligence. Dark social is important, and when you look at recent studies, it is clear that dark social is not just occupying a small corner of the Internet, but is now the leading sharing method for news links, which is highly influential. As more and more of us become addicted to our mobile devices, it will be essential that media intelligence organisations can find a way to understand and make sense of this growing channel.

What would be the main challenges in retrieving that data or media?

The obvious answer is access. The best media intelligence organisations have made changes to their strategy to ensure they have strong working relationships with both traditional media and social media platforms. Not all content or data is free and there is a need for a commercial relationship with the owners. The other key consideration here is privacy and ensuring the security of users is protected.

How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next five years?

It is an arms race! Having the best people supported by the best technology will be key. The pace of disruption to the media intelligence over the next five years will be enormous. Automation and the rise of artificial intelligence will mean our industry and a typical media intelligence company will look completely different. Our tech will be smarter and so will our people!

It is going to be an exciting ride. I am looking forward to seeing what we do and how many more problems we can solve for our clients in five years’ time. Media intelligence will be very powerful and will play an even more important role.

By Renata Ilitsky