“Changing customer needs pose an increasing challenge”

Gábor Bundschuh

Interview with Gábor Bundschuh, Head of Development & Innovation at D-TAG Analytics Inc, a media intelligence company in the US.

Hi Gábor, what is your background and what is included in your current role at D-TAG Analytics?

I have been working with different Information retrieval related solutions for more than 30 years and I have relatively strong experience in AI/ML/NLP tools, data and information management.

D-TAG’s main goal is to support the decision making challenges of companies as effectively as possible. We have a self-developed solution for analysing any type of unstructured, textual contents, especially social media posts and/or documents.

In what ways does D-TAG Analytics differ from other companies?

At D-TAG we are trying to identify the special demands of our potential customers in industries we consider very important, such as pharma, insurance, and banking. Our solution covers both legacy type data sources and social media; it is a hybrid solution for heterogeneous data.

With the help of a well-configured and sophisticated data pipeline and fine-tuned NLP background processes, we enrich the data to be analysed effectively, and turn them into information.

The final goal is to have information instead of bits and bytes.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at D-TAG Analytics, when it comes to serving your customers and developing your offering?

The fine tuning of data (effective data enrichment and metadata handling) is a particular challenge because the quality of data is the most important prerequisite of the analytics. The clarity of the collected data and the quality of the data (metadata) enrichment process are the key points of our approach. Based on data with good enough metadata backgrounds, we can use efficient taxonomies, topic management, entity extractions, and other means in order to be able to discover a large amount of information and — very importantly — to give further ideas to the customers about what they are searching for or what they can be interested in. With the help of this information, we cannot only answer predefined questions, but we can also use the results to formulate new questions and get answers to them very quickly and efficiently.

All customers come with a different level of knowledge. What is important when taking on a new customer?

The starting point in a project is standing on the same page with our customer. At the same time, we want to give them as much experience and knowledge we have as possible, and explain how a typical information retrieval or analytics solution works, what the information is trying to show, and how they can understand it. I think that beyond the predefined business requirements, it is also important to give new ideas based on some “hidden information” we were able to discover.

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

Most solutions on the market are able to handle any kind of data format coming from any kind of repositories, on premise or cloud based. On the one hand, handling the rich media content (picture, voice, video) effectively is still a challenge, especially in the case of special languages. We are continuously trying to find ideas and tricks in order to improve the quality of the speech to text processes. On the other hand, it is very important to improve the quality of AI/NLP/ML related processes, because as I have already mentioned this can be the token of the excellent results. The level of a successful automation will depend on the granularity and complexity of business demands.

Can the entire process of media intelligence be automated in the future?

I think that the short answer is yes, but the detailed, longer one is no. The basic elements and the processes around important milestones of the information management pipeline can be almost fully automated, the level of the automatisation will increase, but the detailed nuances will still play important roles, and will use ML capabilities. But they require manual corrections, improvements and considerations as well.

How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next 5-10 years, and what are the greatest challenges and excitements ahead?

The quality of the analytics will increase, the range and type of customers and end users will expand, and at the same time, the tasks will be more varied.

Changing customer needs pose an increasing challenge to us which won’t be easy to handle from professional nor from other points of view, although technology will also continue to evolve in the meantime as well.

Understanding the relation between the existing data contents and the customer’s business needs will remain one of the most important tokens of a successful project. Technology will help to understand this relationship more deeply.

By Peter Appleby

“The ones that will succeed in the future will develop technology that understands data as humans do”

Ivor Bihar

Interview with Ivor Bihar, COO of Mediatoolkit, a media intelligence company in Croatia.

Hi Ivor, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Mediatoolkit?

I’ve been working on Mediatoolkit since the company’s beginnings in 2014. Currently, I’m Mediatoolkit’s Chief Operations Officer leading and growing the company’s teams including sales, product development, design, and marketing across the various stages of the company’s development. Since we began, Mediatoolkit has grown from two to over 50 people, with the goal to achieve 80% growth in employee numbers in 2022.

What differentiates Mediatoolkit from other media intelligence companies?

Since the beginning, we’ve been developing our proprietary online media monitoring technology that tracks more than 100 million online sources in any language across 250 locations in real time. This is the major differentiator.

It’s our goal to enable customers to make better business decisions based on relevant information from the media delivered by Mediatoolkit. Our whole organization focuses on helping PR and Media Monitoring professionals in any industry to gain value through using Mediatoolkit.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Mediatoolkit when it comes to serving your customers and developing your offering?

Standing out in a crowded market is a challenge for every provider in our space. We’re laser-focused on delivering the best possible experience and continuing to expand the coverage of the ever-expanding number of sources that grows daily.

Educating our customers on what to do with the data we provide is always a challenge, but we want to make sure that clients receive the full value of Mediatoolkit.

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

We’re focused on market and user research to ensure that the features we deliver consistently are in line with user expectations, and that they solve real problems. Our focus is also on educating our customers and the market about PR topics: vanity metrics, connecting their PR effort with their company’s results, setting and measuring PR KPIs and the other usual suspects.

We’re also developing a new product that will combine media monitoring and machine learning to enable Disaster Warning System powered by artificial intelligence.

All customers come with different levels of knowledge. What are the most common misconceptions that your clients have regarding what media intelligence can give them?

Media intelligence capabilities are still not well-known throughout all industries, and we often get very different requests. Some companies look at media monitoring as a niche and a small part of their PR or marketing efforts, while others, in contrast, see it as the solution to all their problems.

So far, the most common misconception is that media intelligence is a magic bullet that you set up just one time. Many don’t realise that regular effort must be put into media intelligence if you are to get relevant results and adapt to changing circumstances and contexts of companies and the markets they operate in.

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

We are in an industry that is always hungry for more sources of information, and we have to keep up with new platforms and ways people share content online. Organizations, however, are facing issues with large volumes of data they are unable to process and drive insights from.

If we drill down to a source level, one of the examples of underutilised sources is definitely Reddit. It’s still not recognised enough, and many customers don’t consider it. On the other hand, TikTok is becoming more and more important, but its impact remains to be seen when it comes to media monitoring.

Privacy around the use of social data is an emerging challenge. How do you think that will affect the media intelligence industry?

Just like social media platforms are working to protect users’ data privacy, we also need to ensure compliance with changes and educate our clients on the importance of respecting privacy. We take data privacy very seriously. It’s our responsibility, but also a challenge, to continue increasing our database of tracked sources without compromising an inch of anyone’s privacy. It is challenging to consider all the regulations, but it’s a necessity that cannot and will not be avoided.

If the future holds anonymised and aggregated content, building trust around the technology that provides insights on top of that data will become an even bigger challenge for the industry.

Is there a specific mouthwatering case that you know of where media intelligence has played a crucial role for a client?

Mouthwatering cases are where clients immediately see substantial business benefits and a quick return on their investment. The most common use cases that our customers use Mediatoolkit for are crisis management, campaign, brand monitoring, competition analysis, and sentiment tracking.

The most recent example that wowed us is a market research company that, prior to using Mediatoolkit, had to spend two months of their projects creating a hypothesis about the markets they are researching. After implementing Mediatoolkit, that process took only two days.

Cases like this are the ones that continue to push us to deliver relevant and timely information to help our clients make better business decisions.

How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next 5-10 years, and what are the greatest challenges ahead?

It’s not news that the amount of data available on the internet grows exponentially. Companies have been going digital for years now, with the recent pandemic pushing this trend further. With these two factors combined, the ability to track and monitor online media is becoming crucial to big brands and smaller businesses wanting to expand their business and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Additionally, the industry has focused solely on the coverage and getting more and more sources and data. The situation is shifting; we should all focus on interpreting the data and enabling customers to make data-driven decisions. The ones that will succeed in the future will develop technology that understands data as humans do while being able to analyse what is relevant and what can make a lasting impact on the business.

By Peter Appleby

“Content is king, but video content is God”

Vladimir Petkov

Interview with Vladimir Petkov, Chief Data Officer of Updata One and CEO of Identrics in Bulgaria.

Hi Vladimir, Updata One is a newly formed community. What companies are included and what are the main purposes of the community?

The four companies that make up the Updata One community (A Data Pro, Identrics, SeeNews and Perceptica), have a variety of expertise and knowledge. Though they’re different companies, they operate in the very same knowledge-intensive industry and this makes the relationship between them beneficial and essential at many levels while allowing each company to build valuable partnerships with the others.

We have many examples of the group’s collaboration in order to answer a specific customer request or perform internal process optimisation. This collaboration leads to an increase of expertise within the community of professionals and provides an opportunity to deliver better products and services to current and potential clients.

What is your background and what is included in your current role as Chief Data Officer at Updata One?

Almost all of my professional path has been related to data and innovation. I have six years of experience in digital media and business development, gained at Economedia, Bulgaria’s top news publisher. After that, I continued my journey as CTO at A Data Pro, a global company specialising in content, data and business intelligence services. Since 2016, I have been CEO at Identrics, and now I am also Chief Data Officer at the newly established business community of Updata One.

In this role, I am responsible for data. I oversee the effectiveness of processes such as data collection, management and transformations and find ways to improve them. In addition, I pay attention to the development of the market we are operating in and find ways to innovate and implement automation.

Outside my professional life, I am a podcast producer and host and deliver lectures on online business and digital media-related topics at various universities.

You are also the CEO of Identrics where you provide automated abstractive summarisation. Can you explain why that is important for media intelligence?

Abstractive summarisation is a solution we launched recently. The media intelligence industry is in constant search for better solutions of content aggregation, transformation and analysis, and we can all agree that we witnessed the rise of a phenomenon during the pandemic – the infodemic.

Nowadays it is even hard for communications experts to know everything about the organisation they are responsible for and respond to the emerging crisis in the fastest possible way.

These problems need the development of new technologies to help media intelligence company deal with the heavy load of information and improve its process, so they can meet the need for accurate, immediate delivery of news resumes.

Abstract summaries are tough and necessitate significant language modelling. It’s also usually more difficult than extractive summarisation. The information in a text is interpreted by abstractive summarisation, which generates new sentences for the summary. It’s pretty similar to how long text summaries are written. This method differs from prior versions of summarisation, which used input sentences to construct shorter texts. To develop human-like summaries, Identrics’ solution employs AI and Machine Learning.

However, there are certain difficulties in creating a new text. One such issue is that abstractive summarisation algorithms can sometimes produce erroneous data. For this reason, Identrics uses a fact-checking method to address this issue.

How will abstractive summarisation affect copyright, and do you see any challenge in relation to copyright owners?

Abstractive summarisation approaches provide outlines that are easily understood and short. They reduce the length of sentences, resulting in reduced recurrence of tasks.

Because abstractive summaries are wholly new texts, they can assist firms to avoid copywriting challenges. This helps save money and time.

Have you recently, or do you plan to, release any new technology-based solutions in 2022 that will add to or improve the services you offer your clients?

We are planning to launch various solutions this year, starting with entity-based abstractive summarisation.

A project we have been working on in the past months is our Enterprise Knowledge Graph, which will allow us to solve complex problems such as entity resolution and entity linking. It will help Identrics create deep reports and include non-obvious knowledge.

Another development is our model for fake news and hate speech detection. These types of solutions are essential in a world where everyone has the freedom to share their own or another person’s opinion, and the information is spreading at a fast speed.

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

There is always room for additional development and improvement.

Social media is a game-changer for sure, but there are also other emerging communication channels. A lot of podcasts are generating content that could be of interest to business decision-makers and PR experts.

Also, we all know that content is king, but video content is God. There are more and more videos spreading across the internet that carry a variety of information with them. Communicational experts need additional instruments to better explore the information in all types of media.

Can the entire process of media intelligence be automated in the future?

Many tasks can be automated with the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning models. The truth is, though, that technology is still not mature enough to replace people. In my opinion, there will not be full automation in any industry in the following decades.

Automation is not everything when it comes to media monitoring. While automation saves the analyst a great deal of time, it cannot handle everything. Analysts that track media must also consider their opinion, or whether an article’s or a social media post’s tone is good, neutral, or pessimistic.

What excites you the most when it comes to automation in the media intelligence industry in the future?

The emergence of new communication channels brings the need for fast development in the media intelligence industry. Think about it: 10 years ago not so many people owned a smartphone, social media didn’t control our world and nobody had even thought of podcasts.

Now we have to deal with new copywriting issues, and the boom of fake news and hate speech. Addressing all of these problems and looking for a way to solve them is something that I am really passionate about.

How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next 5-10 years, and what are the greatest challenges ahead?

The media intelligence industry needs to change with the pace that media in general is doing. The term “media” has transformed dramatically in the past several years. Today, everybody can be media, and everybody can spread the news around its network.

I think we will have to invest even more in R&D initiatives and find new ways to monitor all the conversations that are happening around the net, around the globe.

By Peter Appleby

“You need to be on top of new technologies to make your business as efficient and valuable as possible”

Thomas Vejlemand

Interview with Thomas Vejlemand, President of FIBEP and CEO of Infomedia, a media intelligence company from Denmark.

Hi Thomas, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Infomedia?

I joined Infomedia seven years ago. Back in 2015 Infomedia had its activities only in Denmark. Today, Infomedia has 250 employees in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, and London. In 2018 Infomedia acquired Opoint, a technology platform for crawling of global online news content.

I am Infomedia Group CEO and chairman of Opoint. I have a background as an engineer with a good sense of business and technology. In the last 20 years I have had CEO roles in digital agencies and information management companies combined with roles as a board member in tech startups. In November 2021 I became president for FIBEP, an industry organisation for media intelligence companies.

What differentiates Infomedia from other media intelligence companies?

We are one of the leading media intelligence companies in the Nordic region. We serve major brands and organizations with global communication insights. Our strong integrated global media coverage across print, web, broadcast and social is a big asset. The ownership of Opoint also gives us business opportunities serving industries with aggregated online news content. We are unique as we are owned by the two largest publishers in Scandinavia that require that we are at the forefront of copyright and re-distribution. We strongly believe that this enables Infomedia, Opoint and clients to put their focus elsewhere. We focus on value selling rather than product selling, and we believe in strong partnerships and networking with our clients. It’s a lot about culture and people skills as well.

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

Digital transformation of our business has been a major focus for several years and will still be. The media intelligence industry is changing and you need to be on top of new technologies to make your business as efficient and valuable as possible. It’s about serving your customers with communication insights and pinpointing business impact. During my time with Infomedia, I’ve focused on breaking down communication silos, thus equalising blogs, social media with traditional media. We are now closing in on this narrative. It’s becoming a data driven industry where you need to afford investments in technology, data science and analytical competencies.

In 2019 Infomedia acquired M-Brains activities in Sweden and Norway. In hindsight, how has that acquisition affected the Infomedia offering?

The acquisition of M-Brain brought us into new markets. We got critical mass and scale in our business and thereby the ability to further invest in products, services, technology and in our people. We now have a more client segmented offering with clear value propositions supporting needs for real time insights for crisis management, brand and reputation insights, market and competitor insights and communication efficiency insights.

What is the focus for Infomedia in 2022 and how will you get there?

We want to further consolidate and develop our position in the Nordic region within media intelligence and communication insights. We want to position Infomedia and Opoint for new buying centers. PR/Communication is our target customer group but we believe media and communication insights are of value for marketing, business development and sales as well. It’s about the retargeting of insights and our new product platform suits this. We would very much like to contribute with analytical services enlightening the climate and sustainability agenda as well.

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

The answer, as always, lies with the client. We have seen a shift in behaviour of media consumption, ensuring more focus on metadata and raw data rather than focusing on data types or media silos. Media data is recognised as being a leading indicator in many industries and our clients benefit from that. We work with multiple data sources: panel data, CRM, and market data to name a few. So the overall trend is related to how we enable client behaviour and ensure that we can correlate data to give them business critical insights across their data and needs.

You were recently elected President of FIBEP, The Media Intelligence Association. What are the greatest challenges for FIBEP as an organisation when it comes to supporting its members?

The greatest challenge is to become even more relevant for media intelligence companies across continents. We have to face a more differentiated need from members including global, regional and local companies as well as we have to welcome a broader number of new data and technology companies with the opportunity for networking and partnerships. FIBEP was founded around a very strong networking community. Clearly COVID-19 impacted the way of networking and interacting. We have to innovate and develop a hybrid model for a global industry organization.

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

I’m optimistic and believe our industry will have further growth opportunities. Delivering media analytics and communication insights is of strategic importance in a world with a more complex media landscape – not to mention a world being impacted by fake news and manipulation. The flipside of this is of course the ability to access media content, both editorial and social content. Understanding copyright legislation and dealing with media, platforms and influencers is key.

How would you like to see FIBEP develop over the next five years?

I would like to see a more diversified list of media intelligence companies from across continents. I would like as well to see FIBEP develop its ecosystem and network with selected universities and research organizations in order to position our industry supported by new innovation and science. We need to embrace networking with other industry organizations as well, within PR/communication, marketing and technology.

By Peter Appleby

“The market for media intelligence platform solutions is already highly saturated”

Raina Lazarova

Interview with Raina Lazarova, Co-founder and COO of Ruepoint, a global media intelligence company.

Hi Raina, what is your background and what is included in your role at Ruepoint?

I have spent the last 10 years in the media intelligence space, first at Precise Media Group (UK) followed by a stint as Global Services Director at Kantar Media’s Reputation Intelligence business in the UK where I oversaw international customers and key vendors.

Prior to joining Precise, I was involved in the Business Information and Knowledge Process Outsourcing sectors, working with global companies such as Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones Factiva, LexisNexis, EBSCO.

In 2017, I became one of the founding members and COO of Ruepoint, a global media intelligence business with offices in Ireland, the UK and Bulgaria.

What differentiates Ruepoint from other media intelligence companies?

Undoubtedly, our biggest asset and differentiator is our team. We are very fortunate to have surrounded ourselves with skilled, motivated and passionate people who continue to surprise us every day with their creativity and exceptional effort.

Ruepoint caters for the needs of those customers in the market who need a “white-glove”, fully managed media intelligence service, typically combining media content from a variety of geographies and languages, and therefore requiring a blend of high-touch, multilingual skills, strong domain expertise and capable technology. The services we deliver are typically used by PR and communications teams, the C-suite and other key business stakeholders.

Increasingly, Ruepoint is working on cross-functional requirements, integrating data and seeking to draw insights from a wide variety of data sets from paid, earned, social and owned media, through market research and consumer insights, point-of-sale, and other business data. Customer expectations are constantly rising, and in all fairness, we are deliberately driving this change, as it gives us the opportunity to differentiate ourselves as thought leaders and drivers of change, delivering true value to our customers.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Ruepoint when it comes to serving your customers and developing your services?

Historically, one of the biggest challenges in our industry has been the commoditisation of the media monitoring market. It is the part of the business that is typically characterised by higher margins, which have been eroded in recent years due to pressure from SaaS providers, promising to deliver the same value at a fraction of the price.

Ruepoint’s response to this trend has been to focus on what we are best at – delivering a high-touch editorial and analysis service, leveraging domain expertise in key industries, coupled with a consultative approach to media measurement.

Do you plan to release any new solutions that will add to or improve the services you offer clients?

We constantly strive to improve the services we offer to customers by listening to what they tell us every day. Often, that involves very specific problems that require custom solutions. We bring in experts from across the organisations, from source management, through editors and analysts, to account managers to build a multi-faceted solution that answers those needs.

All customers come with different levels of knowledge. What are the most common misconceptions that your current and potential clients have regarding what media intelligence can give them?

We treat each customer with full respect, constantly trying to provide thought leadership and best practice to help PR and communications teams excel in their job and deliver demonstrable results to their organisations. We recognise businesses operate in wildly different competitive environments that largely define their communications objectives.

At the same time, I believe that demand is a function of supply and in markets where we see misconceptions about the value of media intelligence it is largely due to the services available to that market. To address a common misconception about media measurement specifically in our home market of Ireland, for example, we have invested heavily in educating the market about the value of integrated measurement in the last four years.

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

As a sector, we need to constantly keep our finger on the pulse of any emerging media and data sources. I expect that private, subscription-based networks and formats such as Patreon and Substack will present the biggest challenge to the industry in the near future. Increasingly, content creators are looking for revenue generating models by publishing their work – podcasts, newsletters etc – to a very targeted audience prepared to pay for this content. How we as an industry go about monitoring these networks will be very interesting to see.

What in this industry has surprised you the most over the years?

It has been fascinating to watch the industry move from a largely “scissors and glue” operating model 10-15 years ago to a technology-driven sector using the latest cloud native infrastructure and AI technology. At the same time, customer requirements, very much helped by the efforts of industry thought leaders and AMEC, have evolved from number crunching to seeking to prove true business value. This has been an incredible journey to take part in for Ruepoint and me personally.

How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next 5-10 years, and what are the greatest challenges ahead?

If you had asked the same question 10 years ago, the biggest fear of the industry was the “inevitable” demise of print media with the rise of digital and social. That clearly didn’t happen, which only comes to prove how wrong we can be in our predictions.

I think AI will be increasingly used to aid the human analysis of big data sets, but without replacing the need for cognitive intervention.

A challenge the industry is already facing is the pressure to deliver revenue growth at healthy margins from managed monitoring and evaluation services. I understand why the SaaS model is attractive to shareholders, but I think the market for platform solutions is already highly saturated. Ruepoint is focused on leveraging a mix of high-skilled editorial resources and proprietary tech to deliver the best value-for-money services to customers where and when they matter.

By Peter Appleby

“The communication and PR industry stands at a crossroads”

Richard Bagnall

Interview with Richard Bagnall, co-managing partner of CARMA and Chairman of AMEC, the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication.

Hi Richard, what is your background and what is included in your current roles at CARMA and AMEC?

I began my career as a PR and communications professional and fell into measurement by chance, joining the founder of a new company, Metrica, in the mid ‘90s. I was brought in to grow the business and, over a process of 15 years, it developed into the world’s largest comms measurement business of its day. In 2009, the company was bought by a private equity firm and together with Durrants, Gorkana and Metrica, we merged to form the Gorkana Group. I ran global measurement and evaluation for four years before leaving to become PRIME Research’s UK CEO and SVP of Europe.

Three years ago, I joined long time industry friend and colleague Mazen Nahawi at CARMA as the global co-managing partner and the CEO of our European and Americas business. I have P&L responsibilities for these businesses while also consulting with our clients on tailored evaluation services to provide meaningful PR measurement. Our approach is to attract the world’s most experienced team of measurement and evaluation consultants, which when combined with the great tech on which our services are built, makes CARMA what we believe to be the strongest PR measurement company in the world.

On top of this, I have been the Chair of AMEC for almost six years now. My role at AMEC focuses on industry best practice, ongoing education and ensuring a common and consistent approach all around the world. For education to succeed, it is critical to have a common and consistent voice around the globe all singing from the same hymn sheet.

How does Carma differentiate itself from other media intelligence companies?

First, we are a truly global business and work on all major continents. Second, we are not owned by a private equity firm; we are predominantly privately-owned, including by the management team.

As an industry, there has been a rush driven by the influx of venture capital to focus on software-as-a-service (Saas) and platform-based solutions. This brings with it an emphasis on technology, tools and armies of sales teams. Our view is that PR and comms pros do not need yet more nuisance sales calls, pretty charts and dashboards! They need relevant experience, critical thinking, expertise, and world class service and support to help them make sense of the changing media and comms environment.

Great technology is a critical building block in the offering, but it must be used appropriately for what it is good at: it is excellent for massive number crunching and the lightning-fast heavy lifting of significant data sets, but it is not a solution to PR’s measurement challenges in itself. It has to be the servant, not our master. By their very nature, Saas dashboards tend to count what is easy to count, not measure what actually matters. To measure what matters requires tailoring against organisational and comms objectives, and measuring beyond activity to the actual effects that a communications programme delivered.

Our culture also allows us to stand out. Our teams in each geography are some of the brightest, most hard-working and enthusiastic that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. We support, train and educate our team constantly to ensure that we are all, always learning. This approach attracts the very best talent, and the clients too.

What are the challenges for the market ahead?

The major challenge the market faces is one of education and understanding. For too long, PR and communication evaluation has focused on media content evaluation and ‘output’ metrics. These alone only measure activity, not results, and the number on their own can be pretty meaningless – often the inflated ‘vanity’ metric of which we all hear. Worse than this is the concept of a single number to measure PR and comms. For some this was the appeal of AVEs, and some PRs are hoping that AMEC might create or endorse a new single metric to replace this discredited number. But a single number can never measure all the nuances of communication, nor can it provide relevance, context nor insight.

The global pandemic has accelerated the need for PR and comms pros to professionalise their approach to evaluation. We must point to the value that we create, not just count activity. Activity without benefit is just cost. CFOs across the world are stripping unnecessary costs out of budgets as they look to save money, preserve cash and shore up finances for the uncertainties that lie ahead.

To do this, PR teams must not run the risk of being seen as ‘busy fools’ embroiled only in tactics. It begins with a proper plan, aligning with organisational objectives, setting meaningful targets and KPIs, and then measuring beyond the outputs to showing how opinions have been changed, minds informed and advocacy developed, and then ultimately the organisational impact of the work done.

What are the most important aspects that AMEC provides the industry?

AMEC is the global, single, credible voice of best practice, an organisation that the world of comms can turn to for advice, guidance, case studies and education on all aspects of media intelligence and public relations measurement. Founded 25 years ago as a UK-based media evaluation trade association, it has grown into a global professional body covering all aspects of communication evaluation with almost 200 members in 86+ countries.

Since inception, AMEC has been known for its educational initiatives. The first of these were the Barcelona Principles which we launched in 2010. They are seven broad statements defining what comprises best practice. Think of them as a 30,000-foot view, principles that explain what you should and should not be doing from a measurement perspective. They have been iterated every five years since to make sure they are up to date and reflect latest thinking and media and comms trends.

The Integrated Evaluation Framework then takes the Barcelona Principles one step further by showing the way to operationalise the principles. I led the talented AMEC team that created the Framework. It incorporated experts from all areas of comms and evaluation, PR agencies, in-house practitioners, monitoring/evaluation agencies, and academia. All gave generously of their time and worked collaboratively together, one of AMEC’s core strengths.

The framework is based on something called Process Evaluation which is a standard approach used in other business disciplines to measure effectiveness and efficiency throughout organisations. It was important for AMEC to bring proven management performance measurement approaches to the world of communications evaluation, and not invent something that would lack credibility in the C Suite. It was also important that it would be easy to understand, provide advice and guidance and work for all organisations of whatever size and with whatever budget.

The Framework has been translated into 22 languages, is taught at universities and is globally acknowledged as best practice. Latest AMEC research shows it’s been used at over 2000 organisations around the world.

Where will the Barcelona Principles and Integrated Evaluation Framework be improved upon?

The Barcelona Principles were created in 2010 and have been revised and refreshed since then every five years, the most recent time being in 2020. We believe this to be the right cadence as the comms and media industries continue to evolve to ensure that they are up to date.

The Integrated Evaluation Framework, being based on process evaluation, is an approach or a methodology, not a tool or a metric. As such, there is not a lot within it to iterate, but we are focused on making it more and more accessible and approachable to organisations across the globe. We are focused then on more how-tos, case studies and educational support. This year for example we launched a raft of planning support materials, showing how and why proper PR planning is such a critical and integral part of measurement and evaluation, and where it fits within a measurement framework. For the coming year, our educational focus will be on a free online course showing how to apply the framework to your organisation.

Privacy around the use of social data is an emerging challenge. How do you think that will affect the media intelligence industry?

There will be a further decline in relevance and meaning for many of the old school output metrics that were the primary focus of evaluation for so long. Many of them are now just the vanity metrics of today, the ever-larger numbers that mean very little. Impressions, for example, are impossible to define accurately and cannot be thought of as anything much more than an index.

We have seen some evaluation vendors try to innovate and come up with cookie-based solutions to work out more accurate impression numbers. This sounds great as a concept but relying on cookie and ad-based tracking technologies has been hampered by privacy concerns and cookie and ad blocking software. My personal view is that the search for an ‘accurate’ number of people reached across the diverse media landscape is nigh on impossible. Instead of focusing on that, professionals should be looking to link the output metrics to the outtakes and outcomes that their organisation cares about.

I also see the automation side of the media intelligence sector declining in importance while AI is not yet suitably equipped to provide the insights that the industry requires.

Do you have any final thoughts?

That the communication and PR industry in my mind stands at a crossroads. It has great opportunity but also faces a significant threat. It has to evolve its approach to measurement and evaluation, to focus on demonstrating how we support and drive organisational impact. This involves taking the time to tailor and structure a relevant measurement approach for your own organisation, one that looks across all three dimensions that we have been talking about – outputs, outtakes and outcomes. It involves planning up front and setting targets based around desired outcomes, not just activity. This takes time, and thought and can’t be outsourced to commoditised vendors. It needs relevance, critical thinking and experience.

By Peter Appleby

“Media monitoring has been devalued as a term”

David Mapple

Interview with David Mapple, Director of Outcider, a media intelligence company in the UK.

Hi David, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Outcider?

My background is in marketing and business consultancy. I was working at a marketing consultancy when I met my business partner, and we left to set up Outcider on the basis that the clients we were working for were asking to understand media; what does it mean, what do we need to listen to and what can we do with it?

We went to market utilising just a few pieces of kit to create reports for clients. At that time, clients didn’t want dashboards or to log into platforms, they wanted reports that would explain the media landscape and their position in it. We found that the platforms we were using were not making life easy and from a scalable point of view we would need many more analysts, which was never the premise of the business. So we decided to build one ourselves: not an easy process.

My role today at Outcider is best defined as product manager, but I maintain my media analyst role too. My partner runs the business whereas I build the business. Because I’ve been analysing media for so long, I can give a perspective on what our system should be and how it needs to evolve. I receive feedback from the team and our clients on what they need in terms of output for our system’s analysis.

What differentiates Outcider from other media intelligence companies?

First and foremost, what sets us apart is our background; we find out what the client wants in terms of output and engineer that back into a piece of software. We have a consultative approach.

We found that in the early days of the business, large competitors were producing stats that were then passed to the clients, who often didn’t know what to do with it. It was more of a box ticking exercise for companies than one that added value. Now, we’re able to be part of the team of the client, and we can offer them a closer service beyond the reports.

We’ve been able to do this because we’re a smaller company. As the company grows, this will become harder to maintain and will invariably need more account managers. That’s why we’re reassessing our software, to build in Intercom and other systems that can help with guidelines, while we also change the brief as we go forward.

What are Outcider’s greatest challenges ahead when it comes to serving your customers and developing your offering?

With our decision to sell software, we are making the decision to move away from consultancy work. We want to sell software to agencies, public affairs in particular.

The major challenge for us is data credibility. There are all sorts of data out there – social, traditional, broadcast – everyone has an opinion and is allowed to express it. We need to remember that just because an opinion is published in The Times, does not make it valuable. In fact, if that opinion is in The Times or The Washington Post then it is too late for what we want. We need to look below the surface to find the opinions that will soon find the light. So-called opinion makers are where we’re focusing now, finding out why they think what they think, their agenda and their background. This is a challenge because we deal with a lot of regulated industries – academic or scientific resources are often funded by the people they’re advocating for. This is something that concerns us. That’s why we look for credibility of data and sources prior to producing reports and metrics on them.

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

We will release a new piece of software – a stakeholder analysis platform – on July 4 this year. The platform will still provide media monitoring and will base its extraction of entities on media data. With the software we can set up a key media topic and bring in a dataset. The software will then extract key people and organisations, connection them, and profile them so that when a client logs into the system they can go into the directory of stakeholders on any given topic to see those that have spoken most frequently on the topic, what they’re saying, why they’re saying it and other similar points. When the client thinks a particular stakeholder is of interest, they can be tagged and monitored before being moved over to a COM system where stakeholder engagement can happen. The impact of that engagement can then be monitored on the system so clients can see why they are speaking to stakeholders and how to influence the influencers.

Media monitoring, we believe, has been devalued as a term. There is now a race to the bottom that we do not want to be involved in. We want high-end credibility in regulated industries; legislation, regulation and the likes, less so in brand reputation.

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

Over the years, social media data has been a bugbear for me. I’ve generally refused to use it because there are so many other systems that do social media analysis. Outcider does traditional media analysis. There’s more content to work with, and we can then find context from that content.

That said, we have finally accepted that with the new architecture of our new software system, which can pull in data from different streams including social, that we will use it. The previous system was built around traditional data whereas this one has a wider net. This will give Outcider further opportunities, but we will always begin from the traditional analysis end, rather than the other way around. We believe this is the most valuable method.

Political, legislative and legal data streams will also be useful within the new system. This is where we see our future.

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

Many people within the industry are talking about AI. The technology we all use and access to servers like Amazon AWS has undoubtedly helped the industry advance and to build software. Collaborative, open share software is improving and will continue growing in popularity, while data visualization is also making major steps.

But there’s a concerning trend of a race to the bottom to reduce costs that is happening. Often, the reality is that upfront costs are reduced but there are additional costs elsewhere in the process. This is something Outcider will not be part of, hence why we’re trying to move away from the media monitoring term.

It’s important for us to continue looking forward to having foresight on opinions rather than reflecting on what has already passed. Media monitoring by its nature looks backwards. Learning from the past is important, but our goal has always been being able to have anticipation.

We’ve always subscribed to augmented intelligence rather than AI. This is in contrast to the general industry opinion. Certainly AI has its place but we have always chosen to augment the best of our human capabilities and those of technology together. If we use technology wisely and appropriately, humans are freed up to do what humans are best at; consultative analysis and speaking to clients directly. We began with an ethos of 80% human and 20% technology use. We’re trying to reverse that so the software is doing the number crunching and that we can then provide our expertise, to turn it into valuable reports.

By Peter Appleby

“Access to new content channels that are relevant to clients continues to be a challenge for the media intelligence industry”

John Croll

Interview with John Croll, CEO of Truescope, a media intelligence/CommTech company based in Australia.

Hi John, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Truescope?

I have been in the media intelligence industry for a very long time and the reason I get tagged as an industry “veteran”. For almost two decades I was the CEO of Media Monitors, later named Isentia, and led the growth of that business from a press clippings agency in Australia to an integrated media intelligence business operating in 11 international markets, with 1,200 employees and 5,000 clients by the time I resigned in 2018.

As the CEO of Truescope, which I co-founded two years ago with Truescope CTO Michael Bade, I’m working with some of the smartest, most experienced people to build a communications technology business across three countries focused on bringing new data and new services to the market.

At Truescope, the greatest challenges have been to manage our growth, launch in a number of countries in the middle of a pandemic, and prioritise which innovations and features to develop on the platform.

What differentiates Truescope from other media intelligence companies at the national and international level?

I believe that from the get-go, Truescope has been uniquely positioned due to the fact that we have people that are both technologically super-smart and who also really understand the communications technology and media intelligence industries.

We have been able to build a platform that is truly the next generation in our industry. We have our ear to the ground, listening to what communicators expect from a platform to be more efficient in their jobs now, but also further ahead, to bring them access to services and data they might not have even thought possible. So, we’re talking real-time insights, not just real-time information.

Being cloud-based, our technology architecture also means we can build new features quickly, based on client feedback, and deliver them every month, so speed is another key differentiator.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Truescope when it comes to serving your customers and developing your services?

Access to new content channels that are relevant to clients has always, and continues to be, a challenge for the media intelligence industry.

Since we started two years ago, we have experienced rapid growth – particularly in the Singapore market where we were recently appointed to the panel for the whole of government contract and are rapidly picking up more new business – and enjoyed an excellent client response. Supporting that growth whilst continuing to maintain the highest service standards as we grow is always at the forefront of our minds.

Truescope is a fairly young company. From where do you see that your future growth will come and what is needed to succeed?

We are very young; Michael Bade and I joined together almost two and a half years ago and it was just us. Now there are 30 of us in the Truescope group working across three countries.

Our future growth will come as we expand into new markets and continue to focus on product development, delivering cutting-edge products that differentiate us from the legacy players and giving proof that media intelligence is developing into communications technology. Truescope is at the forefront of this.

Do you have any plans to release, or have recently released, any new technology-based solutions that will add to or improve the services you offer your clients?

When it comes to technology, Truescope believes that AI will continue to be the key to making meaning and predictions of huge volumes of data. We’re able to provide fast sentiment analysis on whole articles as well as entities within articles, to identify influencers relevant to a client, and to recommend relevant content to a client based on viewing and engagement behaviour.

In the near future, improvements in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and further, achieving Natural Language Understanding (NLU), will lead to faster and more accurate insights for clients. Bringing AI based new products, as well as regular platform improvements based on client feedback, will be our continued focus.

Privacy around the use of social data is an emerging challenge. How do you think that will affect the media intelligence industry?

We all have to be responsible users of people’s data. Content owners are ensuring that we manage and work with their data in a compliant way; there are rigorous renewal processes to ensure we adhere to these conditions. If we continue to be good corporate citizens and respect data and content then I think we will continue to be trusted.

How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next 5-10 years, and what are the greatest challenges ahead?

Technology is going to change the industry from confirming-something-happened information, to data models that can predict the evolution of a story. This will become an expectation of businesses in the media intelligence and communications technology industries. Clients are going to look for real-time information on the PESO model so integrated communications measurement is going to evolve and AI will play an important part in delivering these insights in real-time.

By Peter Appleby

“We need to be faster than editorials and journalists to put our customers ahead of time”

András Szalay-Berzeviczy

Interview with András Szalay-Berzeviczy, CEO of TranzPress, a media intelligence company based in Hungary.

Hi András, what is your personal background and what do you do in your role as CEO of TranzPress?

I look after general management tasks from strategical planning and sales to human and technical resourcing questions. I also lead the product development of our proprietary media intelligence tool, PressMonitor. I co-founded TranzPress 15 years ago and since then have not thought of doing anything other than building the company and its two branches of operation: the translation services and international media monitoring services departments. The two business lines explain our slogan: “TranzPress – Language and media intelligence”.

How does TranzPress differ from other media intelligence companies and how does the company’s language specialization help differentiate it from competitors?

In Hungary, we are swimming in the blue ocean. We are the sole company that provides customized international media intelligence services. Our targets are Hungarian corporates with regional or international presence and national public institutes that operate in the domains of foreign affairs, diplomacy or external economic relations. For the former, our service is focusing on industry watch and reputation management services, while for the latter we provide intelligence.

If our translation department were not one of Hungary’s key market player, we would not be able to meet the needs of our media monitoring customers, because we work exclusively with foreign language data and content. Without linguistic intermediation – such as news summaries, reports, analytic and data mining – the service would be half-dead.

What are the new technology-based solutions you have recently released into the market or are intending to?

PressMonitor is a collaboration between our customers and us. We had a basic concept back 10 years ago when we launched Hungary’s one and only international media monitoring service but if our clients had not given constant feedback the tool would not be where it is today. For instance, we have developed a completely new PR-measurement concept based on the sentiment and reach of media coverage (instead of following the outdated AVE methodology) and our analytics is backed up by PressMonitor’s unique data visualization capabilities: it can visualize where a PR—activity started, how intense coverage it yields, the sentiment it generates, the size of the audience it reaches, the events and interactions influencing the trend – in one single, comprehensible chart. Another example is our quotation text-mining module that extracts quotes along with the names of speakers as entities. This is very handy when dealing with large corpora. It facilitates the comprehension of your media and gives you a powerful tool to interact with the media that pick up your stories and helps them evaluate the efficiency of your communication.

What are your greatest challenges ahead when it comes to serving your customers and developing your service offering?

Firstly, we need to face the fact that our service is more and more time critical. We are expected to run our service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, not just in terms of software accessibility, but in terms of providing around-the-clock living labor services, such as daily reporting and customer service. On the other hand, again and again we come across new demands in terms of online and offline content types or countries to be covered. As for content management there is a growing demand for data granularity, i.e. country-specific classification of sources are no longer enough. We need to dig deeper to regional and local levels. We also need to improve our integrated natural language processing technologies and enable our customers to generate alerts in formats other than e-mail and SMS in order to provide multiplatform compatible solutions.

Please give some examples of clients that have benefitted from your services. What were their needs and how did you meet them?

We aggregate hundreds of thousands of indexed online and offline news and social media sources. The crawlers scan through a huge volumes of content every day. Open source intelligence is searching, collecting and processing information from all public information channels potentially valuable for the customers. It is most rewarding when we see that we supported the client in reaching his goals. We work for organizations like the Hungarian Promotion Agency that aims to attract investments to our country. From the beginning our software and team picked, analyzed and digested information that could support them in their negotiations. Today, the Hungarian media is full of two monumental, milestone investments: a new plant for BMW Group in Debrecen and SK Innovations in Komarom, the latter of which is the largest ever greenfield investment in Hungary. We are proud to have provided the agency with all relating news coverage and publicly available information in the recent years.

One of our key accounts is the European Parliament. We report on Brussels on a daily basis with news summaries from the Hungarian media on European Union affairs, and our monthly qualitative and quantitative analyses reports help them better understand our country’s public opinion and media approach to EU affairs and politics. Our reports are available for all +700 members of the Parliament and their secretariats. Today, PressMonitor is used by the Hungarian Embassies in London and Washington to keep an eye on Hungary-related national coverage in the online, social and broadcast media landscape. We support the international expansion of such Hungarian multinational success stories and flagships like the MET Group – with our report covering 12 countries’ energy markets – or Trigranit Corporation with a real estate industry watch covering Central Europe. Our media intelligence service is used by the Constitutional Court of Hungary, the Hungarian Chamber of Civil Notaries, and Hungarian Association for Innovation just to name a few.

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

An MMO has to handle more and more content in the age of big data. Because the media space has grown vast over the years the name of the game today is not necessarily to find everything but to identify what is really important. In other words, to find the needle in the haystack. This presupposes good software codes, good content aggregation processes, structured data, big enough disk spaces and talented analysts and language experts. Data is the fuel of the 21st century. My vision is that media intelligence companies will be expected to parse non-media related information assets soon. We already have projects in which we monitor parliamentary diaries, minutes and security alerts. These are examples for what I call pre-media or media related content.

I am convinced that a media intelligence buyer is primary a buyer of information and only secondary buyer of press clippings and traditional media reports. Thus, in certain cases we need to be faster than editorials and journalists to put our customers ahead of time. If something crucial happens that has an impact on our country’s economy or political life, we do not want to wait till editorials pick it up and broadcast it. I believe information is first, source is second. This is to say media intelligence companies will shift to become open source intelligence companies in 5-10 years’ time. The invisible deep web will have more significance in the future as today and processing unstructured data – retrieved from audiovisual and social media content – will mean the biggest challenges for MMOs in the future.

How has COVID-19 impacted the media intelligence industry, and will these effects remain after the virus has disappeared?

On one hand, we experienced some budget cut measures especially for services requiring expensive living labor. On the other hand, life went online, and content generation has increased probably both in the editorial and social media spheres. Demand has therefore risen for media intelligence services: more researches, more languages, wider scope of content to be covered and faster reporting needed. One thing is for sure: data consumption and the need for intelligence services have not plummeted as a result of the pandemic, but on the contrary: with the exponential growth of digital audiences and information space, the need for media and market intelligence will steadily increase.

By Peter Appleby

“Stricter laws are required around data privacy in social media”

Brian Herrera

Interview with Brian Herrera, Managing Director of Media Meter, a media intelligence company in the Philippines.

Hi Brian, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Media Meter?

I’m presently the Managing Director and Co-owner of Media Meter Inc., having joined the company back in 2012. Before Media Meter, I worked at Pfizer and McGraw Hill Asia, both in sales and marketing. I have to wear multiple hats in my key role as the MD at Media Meter. My focus is mainly on operations, sales, marketing finance, and to a lesser degree, I have some administrative responsibility. I help guide employees in the company that is mostly composed of young professionals.

My role allows me to be flexible and understand different business scenarios both within the company and outside of it. I review internal factors like coordination and communication between different business units and how one units’ function supports and interacts with another. Outside of the company, my areas of focus are our clients, government liaison, the economy and family.

What expertise, services and experience differentiate Media Meter from competitors in your region?

Our expertise focuses more on the continuous innovation and development we create to make our products and services stand out from the competition. In an age in which data is on-demand and more and more organizations require more in-depth analysis, it is vital we slice and squeeze insight from our data-rich content. Being in the media intelligence industry means we must stay apace or ahead of the competition in regards to innovation, price, and services. Our culture is based on being unique and the best in class.

What are the greatest challenges ahead for Media Meter when it comes to serving clients and media intelligence services and developing the company’s services?

The challenges always change but the three main focuses remain the people, the technology and cost of infrastructure. The people are the core of the organization. They are required to run the company and it’s important that we hire the right people and retain the best talent. The workforce must nurture prospects and at the same time manage the expectations of clients with whom they can develop long-term relationships. Technology keeps changing and companies must update, upgrade and make its media intelligence software robust and adaptable to current technology trends. Lastly is the infrastructure cost. With more and more data being produced more infrastructure is required to enhance, manage, curate and process it all.

Have you been able to, or will soon, release any new technology-based solutions that will enhance your solutions?

Yes. Our new solution is to improve customer focus loyalty. We are doing this by utilizing a tool to improve data management and better understand client action plans and strategies rather than looking at immense volumes of data that can mislead and do not always provide the right information. What we are looking at now is how consumer online behaviors focus on product reviews, ratings and other assorted data. This is the next step as the market shifts to more online purchasing.

Please give an example of a client that has benefitted from your services. What were their needs and how did you meet them?

One client using our social media listening tool and media monitoring service is the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry. The department got in touch with us through a web enquiry channel and invited us to bid for a contract in a government public bidding process. They needed a tool to help quickly collate important data and information instead of monitoring data manually or scanning specific newspapers, checking different online news sites, and monitoring broadcast networks and channels. Done manually, these processes are very tedious and require a lot of their time. The Department of Trade and Industry monitors huge amounts of information covering almost all the different industries in the Philippines.

Subscribing to our platform and getting daily email alerts had a big impact on the department’s communications team, helping to increase efficiency in gathering relevant and necessary information. This helped them receive feedback on their stakeholders, know the consumers’ feedback, and manage positive and negative sentiments.

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?

The kind of data that is not currently part of our online dashboard tool is the monitoring of TikTok. TikTok is widely used and its popularity has increased due to the pandemic and people being stayed inside their homes. Increased TikTok coverage would help clients track relevant content that mentions the clients’ brand, allow them to understand how netizens perceive their brand and know which influencers they could build relationships with.

How do you see that changes regarding licensing will impact the data that is used for media monitoring in the future?

I believe that stricter laws are required around data privacy in social media. It is also important to understand how social media regulation influences the user. The government may play a role in this.

It seems likely that premium content and providers of news, forums and blogs will impose controls on their data, but for other general content intended for the general public, data control will be more relaxed.

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

As technology keeps on advancing, consumers and corporations will change in terms of how they use online media and how they can reach target audiences. The demand for media intelligence providers will also change. One of the challenges of the service provider will be dealing with copyright issues from online media platforms.

By Peter Appleby