“Our greatest challenge is to have apples to apples comparisons across various data points from all social data platforms”

Rich Calabrese

Interview with Rich Calabrese, EVP, General Manager at Fizziology, a global audience insights company in the US.

Hi Rich, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Fizziology?

I currently serve as the EVP, General Manager at Fizziology. I’ve worked for Fizziology for 6 years, and have worn many hats along the way as we’ve grown our company to where it is today. Today, my role is to oversee company operations, work alongside our co-founders to plot a strategic roadmap for the company, and to work with and develop new client relationships.

What differs Fizziology from other audience insight companies?

Fizziology takes a human approach to our research. We combine our proprietary technology with human analysts to spot trends and ensure accuracy. Our clients appreciate the human-touch, and the confidence they feel knowing they have dedicated analysts working on their behalf every day to provide insight into their social conversation and the audiences.

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

The greatest challenge we have is the desire from our customers to have apples to apples comparisons across various data points from all social data platforms. I believe all social media researchers and data scientists would love consistent data points across the social landscape, but that will likely never happen. Our challenge is to continue to communicate the strengths and weaknesses of the available social data from each platform, while educating our clients on how to appropriately use them in order to turn insight into action.

Fizziology has recently been acquired by MarketCast; in what way will that affect your business?

Our recent acquisition by MarketCast will further solidify the credibility of our company in the media and entertainment industry. While both companies work in research, we offer a different and complementary methodology and product set, which allows us to work together seamlessly to support our clients and provide an offering that’s holistic and unique to our industry – and new industries we target.

You are targeting the entertainment industry; what specific needs do your clients have compared to general companies in other industries?

Fizziology does work with brands, as well as with clients in the sports and travel and tourism industries; however, the media and entertainment industry is an important focus for our company. In the media and entertainment industry, the product is ever-changing. New movies get announced and then released, new TV shows get picked up, extended or cancelled – it’s a dynamic industry. Outside of major franchises or long-running TV shows, we don’t service the same “product” year after year. Our “products” change every year, which brings new and unique marketing questions for our team to try and answer.

Can you provide a specific example where one (or more) of your clients have made changes based on the insights or analysis you provided?

Unfortunately, I’m under too many NDAs to share specifics; however, to provide a few examples, our research is used to adjust trailer and TV creative, respond to crises, refine media spend, obtain conversations insights by audience, and to evaluate future performance through benchmarking and predictive analytics.

In what countries do you support clients today, and what are the challenges when it comes to scaling your services to markets outside of the US?

We currently provide social media research and audience insights in 13 markets (and counting). Our human-first methodology is consistent with our international research, as we work with in-market analysts and translators to ensure accurate cultural interpretation and understanding of the social conversation in each market. Working with a large team scattered in various time zones, our biggest challenge is communication; however, new tools have made it easier for us to communicate and stay up to speed on client requests.

How has your client’s perception of social media intelligence changed over time?

One of the observations I’ve started to see over the last year is how accepting the C-Suite is to using social data to guide strategy and response. It’s gone from “nice to know” to “need to know.” In years past, this wasn’t the case, and with good reason. I’ve heard stories from clients who were burned by snake oil social media salesmen.  These people needed to be reintroduced and convinced of its validity and accepting of methodology. I believe those social data companies that are still pushing the limits on their technology while communicating their role in the social data landscape are the companies that have found success over the last few years.

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

We’ve just released technology to our clients that is focused on the user – and not on the message. This allows our clients to segment audiences (and their conversations) by their behavior (frequency of conversation) within the brand conversation or by what other Fizziology datasets those audiences also exist in (Fizziology has over 400 billion social data points). This will allow our clients to see when new users talk about their brand for the first time, segment audiences by “diehard,” “beginner,” or even “comic book” fans, and finally, understand where their target audience(s) also exist in Fizziology’s expansive database of over 4,500 tracked films, TV, brands, sports teams, and talent to paint a holistic audience profile.

Which social platforms are the most important to your clients, and which ones do you see as having the most potential in the future when it comes to gathering relevant information?

There’s not one platform that’s more important; it’s about having multi-platform analysis. Our clients want to be sure that we’re looking at each platform online where their audiences are talking to ensure we’re spotting opportunities and challenges. Of all the social platforms that our clients want more from, it has to be Facebook. The platform serves our clients’ owned pages and the ad campaign analytics business very well; however, we’re working tirelessly with Twingly’s offering to offer organic conversation analysis (conversations happening off-owned pages and ad buys) to uncover the audience insights our clients are looking for. However, due to restrictions, we’re not given demographic information that would make the insights richer.

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

We’ll definitely see change; however, it’s hard to be specific as I think everyone will pivot based on data availability and internal advancements of their own technology.  As a company that focuses on social data that we analyze from the organic social conversation (conversation/engagement off client owned social accounts), I hope to see social platforms create audience data offerings centered on audiences that are sharing content outside of a brand’s owned social accounts.

By Renata Ilitsky