Interview with Rayna Grudova-de Lange, CEO of DeLange Analytics, a research and analytics agency in Bulgaria.
Hi Rayna, what is your background and what is included in your current role at DeLange Analytics?
As managing director of the company, my role includes absolutely everything. I’m responsible for the strategic vision, partnerships and client relationships and presenting the company to external parties. I need to think about positioning and how to respond to the changing environment, as well as how to implement those ideas. I have high profile analysts and project managers in my team that really think with me here, but in the end, it is me who draws the line.
What distinguishes DeLange Analytics from other research and analytics agencies?
It’s not a secret that we live in extremely dynamic times. Everything changes so fast and clients and their business problems are all different. That’s why I don’t believe in standard offerings and methodologies. They used to work some 10 years ago but not anymore.
We’re different because we take a very tailored approach with our customers, developing analyses and research exactly around their needs. Our ultimate goal is to help the client answer the questions, and to make them ask questions that they haven’t asked themselves before. So we really seek what is behind their request—if they have one at all. We start with close conversations to understand the client and end up with a sketched approach which we think reflects their business case. And we offer this in many different languages for many different markets. My team members are all multilingual.
What are some of your greatest challenges ahead at DeLange Analytics?
At the beginning of the social media era, it was much easier to access the data and provide a comprehensive analysis. Many social channels like Facebook and then Instagram started closing themselves for third party technology providers to harvest their data due to internal politics and privacy. China, for example, is a very important market to cover but because of its internal politics you can only get very limited access. We still include them in in our analyses, but only manually, which means you’re getting fewer valuable data points. We tackle this by introducing something we call “integrated analysis” in our industry. But blending different types of data and analysis to build a comprehensive picture it is very challenging, and it increases costs.
There is also the rising importance of chats like WhatsApp and Telegram. Brands start talking more to their customers via those platforms. They’re important for understanding the relationship between a brand and the customers, and how the customer journey goes. But they are once again closed data.
What is a common misconception your customers have regarding research and analytics?
When you present to experts—the engineers, or the sales team—they know their product pretty well. So often when we present an analysis to clients, they say: “Okay. But we already know that.” Sometimes analyzing is not about unveiling what you didn’t know, but about validating things you already did know.
You may know things because of your experience in the industry, but very often, you don’t have the data to prove it and you need it, for example, to communicate with your colleagues from another country. There is a huge difference between the market in Brazil versus Mexico, or Kazakhstan versus Canada. The misconception would be, I would say, that you constantly need to review new things.
Regarding the actual analytics, what kind of data or media not currently used can be interesting in the future?
I see challenges and opportunities coming around Web3. We see that brands and companies are already trying different marketing strategies for the Metaverse, but we don’t know exactly what types of content (data) we will use, if we will be able to measure it and how. There are many question marks in terms of the strategic developments of the Internet.
You are a board member of AMEC – International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication. What is the most important thing AMEC brings to its members?
I’ve been an AMEC-member for several years and I’m passionate about it. AMEC is the biggest international association for measurement and evaluation companies like mine and bigger corporations. They are all about moving forward through innovation to establish best practices as well as thinking outside the box. They look back at old methods to explain why they are now outdated. Lots of educational resources are freely accessible and they help not only communication professionals, but also students in universities in every part of the world to understand this sector that is in fact quite a niche. I think this form of education is extremely important.
Within AMEC we have specialized groups such as the College & Education Group that I’m part of. We just released a foundation course for measurement and evaluation in communications. We’re producing all our courses and tutorials from scratch. We’re really trying to help the industry become more advanced by creating these resources, by helping people understand.
How would you like to see AMEC evolve in the future?
I would like to see them drive innovation in the industry even further. I think that we are obliged to create new analyses, approaches, and methodologies to answer the latest requirements. AMEC offers all sorts of impactful events throughout the year. For example, there is the annual summit where not only members, but also other external companies can share knowledge, practices, and challenges. AMEC is a great platform for that.
What is the thing that makes you work hard to grow DeLange Analytics to the next level?
When I started, around 2010, we were innovators in terms of establishing and creating social media analyses. Clients didn’t know yet that social media was important. They didn’t know how to use it, measure it and what the effect of that could be. It turned us into consultants. Every one or two years a similar strong development happens—now it is blockchain, NFTs and so on—that people must adapt to as soon as possible to lead their clients, because they don’t know how to react. This makes you a very trusted partner which is incredibly appreciative. It gives me the satisfaction that I’ve done a good job, because I’ve helped somebody do his work better.
By Anna Roos van Wijngaarden