“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

“The key to social media analysis is being able to rank information in the most relevant manner”

Alexander Polonsky

Interview with Alexander Polonsky, Co-founder and VP R&D of Bloom Social Analytics, a social media analytics company in France.

Hi Alexander, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Bloom?

My background is in Neuroscience. I have a Phd in Neuroscience and a Master’s in Applied Mathematics, and I have been working in information and analysis management for the past 20 years.

At Bloom, I research. More specifically, I research algorithm design, in order to design algorithms to analyse the social media data that we collect. The process of design is a scientific process in which we define hypotheses about how we would go about solving business problems. We then create those models and options in order to test them, before refining and iterating based on the test results we receive from testing. We do this until we reach a satisfactory performance.

What differentiates Bloom from other social media analytics companies?

Our positioning is very different and we’re unlike other social media analysis companies in the sense that we focus on the quality and relevance of analysis over the speed of analysis and the spread of source coverage. We cover fewer sources but do so in far greater depth. We cover only Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Weibo, WeChat and TikTok.

Gaining access to data is challenging, but in addition there are challenges to analysis. When trying to access data via search queries there can be all sorts of problems, particularly if the intention is to statistically analyse the results of the search. Algorithmic issues must be solved, such as detecting the noise, completing the query, and detecting content that is relevant but not easily tracked with keywords. Bloom is really the only company to address these issues adequately, using powerful automated query modelling assistance. Our classification approach to data allows us to go beyond keywords.

There are two key points we stress in terms of analysis of data. One is the quality of our mathematical analysis. There are many companies that analyse social media data very superficially, and the majority of companies commit grave mathematical errors in their analysis by treating different sources as though they were the same, or using a trend calculation that is not really a trend, or performing sentiment analysis very poorly.

The other is that we analyse data in a way that goes beyond our competitors’ abilities. We analyse positions, not just sentiment. We also analyse emotions, and we have developed unique models of information importance. The key to social media analysis is being able to rank information in the most relevant manner, and counting different types of engagements in the same manner is a huge oversimplification.

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

Data access remains a major challenge for all players in the space because platforms are not predisposed to sharing. On one hand, this is understandable. On the other hand, it’s short-sighted. Twitter has shown it can be a major part of a business model, and importantly, if companies feel that they cannot see what is really happening on a social media platform from the outside and verify information for themselves, it becomes harder and harder to trust platforms that are charging for advertisements.

So far Bloom has not focused on real-time analysis. We prefer to take our time and analyse thoroughly to provide deep insights and strategic recommendations. But more and more our clients are asking us for real-time updates. We will now focus on developing this side of our offering.

We have invested heavily into our investigation capacities but we also want to develop our alerting capacities.

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

Access to some of the platforms is getting harder and so the best practice is to diversify and increase source coverage. We are continuously integrating new sources, but when integrating we do so in a way that goes far further than most competitors. Being able to access data on a platform can have many different levels – what exactly a company is able to access is key to its abilities.

You have recently launched a partnership with Dassault Systèmes. How will that partnership affect Bloom moving forward?

The partnership opens up a whole new sector for us: product design. We’ve already worked a little in this area for previous clients but the Dassault Systèmes partnership is a strategic alliance to launch a new offer because the main clients of Dassault Systèmes are those designing and managing different products, for example, in the transportation industry. We will be feeding these clients with strategic insights about market trends, consumer behaviour and similar information.

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

Challenges to data access will certainly remain but we’re seeing new social media platforms spring up all the time, and not all of them are bought by the majors right away. This means there is a high diversity of players. Keeping up with them all will not be easy but may be easier than gaining information from some of the traditional major platforms.

Another challenge is proving the new use cases that companies are presenting. Social media analysis has addressed only part of the large number use cases it could work for. While new use cases are still to be proven, this trend of moving the industry beyond marketing and communications will continue. Our partnership with Dassault Systèmes is an example of that.

I hope that the industry will mature. At the moment it is somewhat of a Wild West and grand claims are made that are not then backed up. Clients do not generally have sufficient expertise to be able to judge the relevance of one solution over another, so hopefully we will see some standards emerge. We’re still far from that at the moment.

Can you please give an example of some surprising findings from your analytics that made a significant impact for a customer?

We worked for one company in the bottled water market. They had been putting a lot of effort into the recycling of their bottles, but we helped them realise that the consumers did not trust recycling. Indeed, consumers really wanted the re-use of plastics and the abolishing of single-use plastic. This difference struck at the core of the strategy for this large company.

We worked for another client in the prepared food industry where many companies are looking to migrate from plastic to aluminium packaging. We discovered that there is a growing weak signal of alarm about the health risks of aluminium packaging. In that sense, they may have been moving from the rock to the hard place.

By Peter Appleby

“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

Twingly is heading to SXSW!

 

austin
Austin

Everyone at Twingly is going to SXSW in Austin, March 9-15. If you would like to get access to more blogs in Japan or news articles in Italy, discuss the challenges in collecting social data globally or talk about the current consolidation in the media monitoring industry, please let us know and we can meet up for a chat.

Twingly has moved on from being the leading supplier of global blog data, to now also include one of the strongest coverage of forum, news as well as other social data.

We hope to see you in Austin!

For meetings, please just send us a note.

How Leonardo helps us shape the future of social data

Leonardo_blogFor every sprint we fight with the priorities to improve our services and products as much as possible for a greater value. Sometimes however you might get stuck in priorities that limit creativity and you might lose track of where you are heading.

So, we introduced Leonardo.

Inspired by Google’s “20% time” we launched Leonardo, for the developers to spend 20% of their work time on future projects that are not included in regular planning. However, they could only choose among a certain number of projects in social data, that all were on our future road map. It could be features, new products, improvements to our systems etc.

They were free to approach the project in any way they liked as long as they constantly logged what they did, so everyone could follow the work, give input or continue the work if needed further on. They could go at it alone or together with someone else.

The purpose is to give the developers more creative freedom, full responsibility at the start of a project that they have selected and a picture of the different parts of our distant future. At the same time it gives us all a better detailed idea of our challenges ahead which helps us prioritize among new projects.

After the team was presented to Leonardo and the projects to choose from (four times more projects than team members), they got three days to choose their first project. Some chose project almost unwillingly and we even had to schedule time in our regular planning for everyone to get started.

Now after 6 months, we are still not fully embracing Leonardo. The big challenge for probably any team is to really set aside 20% of the work time on regular basis. Daily and weekly priorities are made for a reason and that knowledge in relation to available hours sometimes dims the view.

A few projects have come as far as it is possible under Leonardo and waiting to be included in the regular planning, while some have temporarily been abandoned for the choice of other projects. Projects with longer runways to get off the ground have seemed a bit more difficult to get attention, probably because they clash even harder with the short-term of daily priorities.

In our struggle for a more improved effect, the picture of the future painted by our Leonardo is still important every week to keep us on the right track and to see future synergies. We will continue to evaluate and develop Leonardo to generate more value in the future of social data.

If you are running similar projects, please share your experiences and don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions or thoughts about ours.

Why the name Leonardo? Well, Leonardo da Vinci was a genius ahead of his time…

By Pontus Edenberg

If you need access to local or global blog data, you can find everything you need at Twingly.com