“The change of mindset around privacy will be a big challenge”

Patrick Charlton

Interview with Patrick Charlton, CEO of Buzz Radar, a social media intelligence company in the UK.

Hi Patrick, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Buzz Radar?

I used to be a racing driver, which was a lot of fun when I was 20, but I crashed too much and ended up having to go to university, where I did computing and management but became obsessed with everything to do with radio. I talked my way into a job at the BBC and ended up on BBC Radio 4 and was put on a show called Loose Ends. My job was to book all of the talent for the show, which gave me a lot useful contacts and I became well known with music bookers.

Then in 2007/2008, using those contacts, I created an online music TV show. Rather than having judges on it, the rankings were determined by an algorithm that I built with some friends that looked at MySpace comments and views, a bit of Twitter, YouTube plays and stuff like that. We created this thing called the Buzz Chart, which is where Buzz Radar came from.

I ended up selling the technology and format to Red Bull and then found myself without a job, so I became the head of production for a social media agency called 1000Heads. There I became global lead for Nokia and Skype’s early social media efforts, so we were spending loads of money doing really cool things and our job was to measure it to see how effective it was. There was really only one tool to measure that. It was super clunky and we needed something a lot more visual for marketers to get their heads round, so we built Nokia a custom command centre, and it was so popular and went down so well that lots of other agencies started asking for it.

From that I started Buzz Radar. We built our first command centre for Marks and Spencer’s and we ended up, very quickly, working for Nike, Samsung, Sony, Twitter, doing a lot of really cool social media real-time data visualisation.

In 2014 we were one of the first companies that Google Ventures Europe approached, but we’ve always been very keen on using the revenue we generate from customers to grow and develop. We keep things deliberately compact and efficient. We work with 75 really interesting companies and my role as CEO is empowering our team of about 15 people to do really awesome work and solve really difficult problems for our clients that other people struggle with.

What differ Buzz Radar from other social media intelligence companies?

99% of social media listening tools are designed for analysts to extract insight out of to write reports. Buzz Radar started to create a real-time listening platform that was very visual, and rather than working with engineers and data scientists, we worked with graphic designers and marketers and really looked at the problem of ‘what are the things that need to be understood by the C-suite immediately’.

We made that super visual and super easy to understand. Our job is to create digital transformation by making the visual side of insights very engaging and wake up a wider audience inside organisations, to solve much more tangible real-world problems.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Buzz Radar, when it comes to serving your customers media intelligence and develop your offer?

The change of mindset around privacy will be a big challenge for us, especially the way that customers and social media networks are slowing the flow of data down since the Cambridge Analytica scandal. We need to think how to provide useful information while staying inside and being compliant with GDPR and how do we create a morally correct but useful service.

Generally the challenges remain the same. Having the intelligence is really great but what do you do with it? How do you turn it into actionable insight and getting people to focus on the technology, the people and the process? How do we empower organisations to do useful things with insights and social listening?

Have you recently released any new technology-based solutions that will add to or improve services you offer your clients?

At the moment we’ve recently launched AI Audience Analysis. That’s where we’re psychometrically profiling audiences on Reddit, Twitter, Instagram – anywhere there’s publicly available info on a person. If they talk about a brand or product we’ll look at all their posts and profile them – within GDPR limitations.

We can take a social media profile and break it down into 50 different personality components and get an incredibly accurate read on a person or a group. That allows us to create much, much better content strategy, because we can compare it with the content that’s being published by a brand, so we can figure out how well that content is resonating, or will resonate. So that’s an incredibly powerful piece of technology.

Can you give an example of a client of yours that have used audience intelligence with great result?

One of our big problems, historically, is being tied to stringent NDAs but I can talk about a pharmaceutical company in the HIV / AIDS medication space. They wanted to understand the HIV treatment audience.

One of the jobs was to use AI Audience Analysis to understand how many healthcare professionals were out there who were forward thinking innovators. We managed to identify a group of early adopters and look at their other key personality traits to help them develop a campaign that targeted that audience.

The other part looked at patients and understood what a big focus was for patients. What that allowed us to do was to give the data to them, so they can go to senior management and say ‘this isn’t what we think, it’s what we know’. That gave them the authority and agency to go and change some of the core content strategy for the brand.

We were able to take the company from fourth largest brand, socially, in the market to the number one. We really transformed them by creating these audience insights, profile the audience, and understand what content will resonate with the audience.

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

We only just started with Reddit, and we want to get into more specialist, niche, databases. One of the cool things about Buzz Radar is we develop functionality specifically for individual clients if they need it, so for example if they wanted us to integrate to a new network or create a new visualisation, our team will go to build them if we can’t within our existing platform. That gives us the ability to look for different data sources and plug them in quickly for new projects or proof of concepts.

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

There’s been a huge amount of consolidation in the industry and there are a few big players. Some of those big players have oversold and underdelivered, and there’s been a much too large focus on technology rather than people, process and technology. What that’s done is create a fatigue in the industry from marketers to social listening, but to technology in general. Frankly we spend a lot of our time picking up the pieces from the bigger companies who oversell and underdeliver.

What we see happening now is a move away, as the industry matures and the marketers mature with the tech, we see a much smaller focus on the tech and a much bigger focus on what can be realistically delivered, what actionable insights there are.

I think the industry will be more important. As GDPR clamps down on cookies, cookie technology and ad tech, looking for data in other places will be more important. We’re seeing marketers move away from expecting tools to be magic bullets and I’m hearing less stupid words like compumagical.

There’ll be more focus on the human element. As AI does more heavy lifting, it’ll give analysts and experts more headroom and space to get out of PowerPoint and spreadsheets and move towards finding insight, actions and recommendations.

By Russell Hughes

“The main challenge will be the use of data considering privacy rules and terms”

Theofilos Argyriadis

Interview with Theofilos Argyriadis, CEO of Clip News, a media monitoring service based in Greece.

Hi Theofilos, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Clip News?

We established Clip News in 1992, in a time when “monitoring” and “clipping” were almost unknown services in Greece. Of course, back then monitoring and clipping services included only print media. I have worked at every stage and post of a small monitoring business, such as the clipping department, sales, manager. Today, almost 30 years after the establishment of the Clip News SA, my official role is President and CEO. My responsibilities mainly focus on the company’s development in terms of new products, new IT technologies such as the implementation of machine learning solutions and AI, as well as the inter-connection of Clip News with other companies and the participation in European programs.

Having founded Clip News almost 30 years ago, what are you most proud of over the years?

I believe what I am mostly proud of is the people that have grown along with the company all these years. The people are our main asset and we try to give them all the necessary skills to develop and implement their own ideas.

What differs Clip News from other media intelligence companies?

Competition in Greece is not particularly aggressive. We know what our competitors offer and we are well aware of the market conditions. I could maybe say that our high-level services and an excellent customer service department surely differs us from other companies. We take care of our subscribers and we meet all their needs. We foresee and suggest solutions, given our long expertise and familiarity with the publicity of each subscriber. We know how to respond and handle any crisis our subscribers may face.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Clip News, when it comes to serving your customers media intelligence and develop your offer?

At Clip News we focus and strongly believe in services that add value to the monitoring services, especially with the use of all the metadata available in each piece of information we handle. We strongly feel that the excessive information available nowadays does not make sense and to this end we offer added value services such as analysis services, reports, Executive Reports from specific or all media types. I strongly feel that it is our job to train subscribers in order to better understand how we can help them. It is quite difficult to communicate all of the services we are able to provide to a company fast enough, due to stereotypes in the market. Our services have quickly evolved with the help of technology and the expertise of our employees and we can provide assistance to our clients on multiple levels. As a result, our biggest challenge is to transfer our knowledge and gain the trust of our subscribers. Fortunately, we manage to do so.

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

We are about to release a clustering feature for media clips from all media sources that will be carried out through machine learning. As a result, our subscribers will really have less clips to go through. Clustering will reduce the cost of other services, such as reports and analysis. We will also focus on tagging the clips, for our subscribers to understand the big picture of their publicity. Furthermore, we are correcting the automated sentiment of clips, which unfortunately in the Greek language has a success rate of up to 80%, compared to the English language (95%).

We are also launching reporting and analysis services based on KPI’s including several metrics, for both print and online monitoring services. To this end, our subscribers can have a complete view of their publicity and track their weaknesses and strengths in each media source. Practically, all these tools can create a publicity strategy based on reliable data.

As active in Fibep, The Media Intelligence Association, what do you think is the most important such an organization can bring to its members?

FIBEP is an association of members with the same principles, services and anxieties. Apart for the obvious (sales between its members) FIBEP is a remarkable association that makes use and communicates the expertise of each member. Keep in mind that FIBEP includes members that have a history of 100 or more years, as well as newly founded companies from across the world. This exchange of knowledge can only benefit each FIBEP member.

I believe that co-operation is the key for the future of media intelligence companies. The volume of data will increase any company, no matter its size, will not be able to respond easily. Media intelligence companies need to find a way to co-operate more substantially towards a greater goal and not based on short-term financial results. We need to claim our place in the future and be ready for in order to evolve to significant market players. FIBEP could design such a prospect and transfer the long-term profit to its members and design tools that will make co-operation easier and faster.

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

The main challenge will be the data and the use of data considering privacy rules and terms. The questions that will be posed in order for the data to be able to provide answers. In the coming years I believe that there will be changes that mainly concern a more structured way to use data. Our services will change and media mentions or clips will no longer be important. The importance will shift towards services that are based on metadata, trends and analysis services. Media intelligence companies ought to quickly adjust to the new reality and provide services with truly added-value.

By Russell Hughes