“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

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