“The need for reliable, editorially-controlled, and verified information is more important than ever”

Martin Lyster

Interview with Martin Lyster, CEO of Agility PR Solutions, a media intelligence and solutions company based in Ottawa, Canada

Hi, Martin. What is your background and what are your duties at Agility PR?

My background is originally in finance and accounting. I’m a data junkie at heart. In 2003, I co-founded a media analysis firm in Ottawa, Canada, and built that business into the country’s leading media intelligence company. We sold the company in 2014 to Innodata, which remains Agility PR’s parent company. Following the sale, we made a series of acquisitions that built Agility PR’s capabilities for the full PR lifecycle.

My daily focus is on taking our product to the market. Agility PR punches above its weight in terms of our capabilities for our size. We receive superb feedback from clients on websites like G2 and have a growing reselling business.

Today, Agility PR has an enviable platform and suite of workflows and tools across our product range. We have several thousand clients around the world and now employ hundreds of people globally.

What is the added value that Agility PR provides its clients in the PR and marketing sectors?

On the media targeting side, Agility PR is one of the very few companies in the industry with a global media database that is fully integrated with a Big Data media intelligence platform. Our AI-powered technology gives us the ability to make the connection between journalists and the content they publish in real time, so that we can identify emerging trends to put PR and marketing teams in contact with them. This precise approach is the most effective way to target the media but is only possible via the application of our media monitoring solution together with our media database.

Which services propel the growth of Agility PR?

Agility PR covers the entire suite of the PR lifecycle. This includes media outreach, whereby we identify the key journalists covering a particular industry and set a workflow on how to engage with them, share content, and amplify the client’s content with that media. Content is then published, which requires media monitoring.

We divide the company into two main areas: outreach on one side, monitoring, analysis, and intelligence on the other. These two sides are split evenly in terms of business activity and complement each other well.

In what ways has COVID-19 demanded adaptation from Agility PR?

COVID-19 has had a serious economic impact globally. Yet it has presented Agility PR with a tremendous opportunity and we have seen our metrics grow. On the media intelligence side of the business, some of our largest clients have become very proactive around how their business is reflected in the media. Some of these businesses have been deemed ‘essential services’ during the crisis and therefore have an increased need to understand how their business is seen. In parallel to this is the public’s opinion and concerns.

On the outreach side, we have never been busier. Our clients are sending a significant number of news releases through Agility. Month after month we have seen increasing utilization of our tools. Between March and April, the number of press releases sent out via Agility PR Solutions’ tools grew by over 30 percent, while the outreach via the Agility platform has increased 60 percent since January.

What are the challenges that confront the industry today?

The print media industry is going through a lot of changes but the COVID-19 crisis has sped this change. But the need for reliable, editorially-controlled, and verified information is more important than it ever has been. The public is consuming – depending on the metrics you’re looking at – between 60 and 300 percent more media than at any earlier time. We deliver vital insights from that consumption and turn it into intelligence for clients.

Agility PR’s media database is the premier database in the industry and this is because of the workflows we have in place. Our team is working flat out because, with the pandemic, journalists’ contact details have changed. Maintaining that communication bridge is important for everyone.

What are the technology-based services that Agility PR hopes to bring to market, and what is the problem being solved?

One of the main themes in our sector is PR attribution, but as of today, there is no real PR attribution method that provides clients with a clear understanding of how content drives business. This is an area we are looking at, and while there are quick wins to be had, that is not the direction Agility PR will move in. Instead, we will look to generate insights from our client suite intelligence to help clients understand the impact of content in measurable terms. These terms differ: for one client it may be revenue, for another, blood donation. Through our data-rich approach and analysis, we can build the whole picture for our clients.

How can Agility PR increase the quality of the insights its services already offer clients?

We feel we are just scratching the surface in terms of the audience intelligence and targeting intelligence can provide. We have already brought these two ends together, but adding a level of predictive analytics will give our clients the opportunity to target the media more accurately, in scalable and precise ways, compared to the traditional approach. We have our database ready, but by linking it to client-side data, we can truly create a predictive solution. We have an exciting roadmap for these developments.

By Peter Appleby

“The biggest challenge is to master both the AI technologies and the processes of valorizing them”

Viet Yen Nguyen

Interview with Viet Yen Nguyen, CTO of Hypefactors, a PR automation software company in Copenhagen

Hi Viet, what is your background, and what is your current role at Hypefactors?

My academic background includes a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science from the University of Twente, and a PhD in Computer Science from the RWTH Aachen University.

I started my career in R&D for the European space industry. I took part in technology transfer projects where we applied recent theoretical advances from academia and demonstrated their applicability to upcoming spacecraft missions. Later on, I joined Fraunhofer, a German research organization where I participated in projects of similar nature in automotive, autonomous farming and the energy sector until I moved to the private sector.

Today I’m the CTO of Hypefactors, a SaaS doing reputation and media tech and helping brands and companies do that more effectively. H&M, parts of the United Nations, Volkwagen, Stark Group (a construction industry) and Sampension (pension funds) are some of the clients in our portfolio.

What responsibilities does your role carry with it?

Our company centers on four segments: data, AI, web and mobile. I drive all four from an engineering and product development perspective end to end. This includes day-to-day operations, as well as new business strategy planning and alignment.

What differs Hypefactors from other reputation & media automation software companies?

Hypefactors is a simple all-in-one solution for reputation and media management. This is incredibly important because many competitors are only point-solutions. We see that prospective users are dissatisfied with using dozens of different tools. They prefer to use only one that allows all aspects of their workflow to be simple and integrated.

What are the greatest challenges ahead for Hyperfactors when it comes to offering your customers analysis and developing your offer?

Throughout the years, we have become strong in multilingual and global analysis using machine learning and big data. We are extremely pragmatic in tackling those challenges, and we are used to making tough choices. Therefore, like academia, the majority of our effort goes into supporting significant use cases. Improved support for low-resource languages like Dzongkha or Welsh has shifted to the future.

What are the best applications of AI for the PR industry, and how does it benefit your customers?

We have over a dozen AIs in production, seeing a million requests per day for various purposes. Our reputation in AI is very user-visible; we assess whether the client’s brand, product or spokesperson is perceived as positive, neutral or negative within the context of a text. It’s trained to not only recognize sentiment, but also facts and cultural aspects that impact reputation. This is a step up from commonly deployed generic sentiment AIs.

The reputation is one single dimension that impacts all other parts of the business. A reputation peak is typically paired with supercharged KPIs on marketing, sales, financial and recruiting.

Have you recently, or do you plan to, release any new technology-based solutions?

We’re constantly improving the integration between our product features, as well as adding more media data and machine-learned information enrichments.

Our systems are on continuous deployment; our roll out strategy is to release incremental changes at least once a day. When you compare the changes on a day-to-day basis, the impact is minor. However, when you consider the accumulation and compounding of these benefits over a longer duration, let’s say months, the difference is night and day.

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

I find it incredibly exciting to be in this industry at this time as there’s so much ground to cover. Take for example language — it’s been a fundamental barrier between people and cultures. AI and big data are breaking these barriers down. Today, thanks to ML translation, we can instantaneously read and understand the gist of articles posted in countries whose languages are completely foreign to us. This is especially important for multinationals, like H&M and Volkswagen. The same result was not tractable two decades ago.

In general, I think there’s a lot of time saving ahead for us by automating repetitive aspects of the work, like reporting and data curation. This enables our clients to spend more on the creative and strategic aspects of reputation and media management.

The biggest challenge is to master both the AI technologies and the processes of valorizing them: the execution. This is not the kind of execution traditionally seen in most businesses because you cannot apply tactics from engineering, financial, sales, and marketing management nor principles from any other business dimension to implement and apply AI in a successful way. In fact, it’s closer to attaining scientific excellence than to driving business ROI. The people mastering this holistically will make waves in the years to come. At Hypefactors, we are heading this wave with our talented team.

By Renata Ilitsky

“With increasing volume, listening and analytics will be all the more important”

Sameer Narkar

Interview with Sameer Narkar, Founder of Prudence Analytics, with the social listening and analytics platform, Konnect Insights.

Hi Sameer, what is your background, and what is your current role at Prudence Analytics?

I started as a software developer about 15 years ago, and now lead the team at Prudence. Everyone knows us as Konnect Insights – a social listening and analytics platform. My role at Konnect Insights is head of product, and as founder, I oversee other functions, such as Marketing and Sales.

As the founder of a growing company like Prudence Analytics, what are you most proud of thus far in the journey?

We are happy with the fact that Konnect Insights is the leading product in the social listening space in India, and we are slowly entering other markets. Our users love our data, the user experience and the great dashboards. Nothing makes me more proud than seeing a happy customer.

What differs Konnect Insights from other social listening platforms?

We offer an all-in-one tool that allows our customers’ marketing, customer support, analytics and PR teams to all use one software. The unified dashboards make life a lot easier for the whole organization. Apart from this, our dashboards and BI tools are the best in the industry.

What are the greatest challenges ahead for Konnect Insights when it comes to offering your customer analysis and developing your offer?

I won’t really call them challenges, we see them as opportunities. We know it is a fast changing world of social media and analytics with new changes happening at the social platform level as well as API changes. We have to keep abreast of them, and, at the same time, update our users on the changes.

The other important aspect is to keep innovating and bringing in new features and improvements in the current offering. We love to do that, and we are always excited about achieving excellence in our offerings.

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

The Business Intelligence (BI) solution that we launched offers the capability of creating charts with any combination of columns and filters, which is one of the most advanced solutions that we offer in addition to our dashboard’s functionality. We are thinking beyond social listening tools and making them a complete digital marketing suite with all possible integrations, and then offering the power of dashboards and Business Intelligence tools.

Which of your current products do you believe has a lot of potential, but hasn’t been adapted at the same rate as your other offerings by your clients?

We offer integrations with many CRM systems, such as Freshdesk, Zendesk and Microsoft Dynamics, as well as chat applications like Slack and Microsoft Teams. This has only been adapted by a few of our customers. We offer APIs for various integrations and would love to have a lot more use cases.

Which social platforms do you see as having the most potential in the future?

Instagram is the present as well as the future. I know a lot of marketers believe TikTok is the next big platform, but I still want to wait and see.

How do you think the media monitoring and social media analytics industry will change in the next 5 years?

The need for monitoring and listening will keep on growing. There is a gold mine of information available on the web and social media. You get your customers’ feedback with so much ease with tools like Konnect Insights, and you can respond to them within minutes. You can make data driven decisions, change your offerings and know what is working for you and what’s working for your competitors with ready-made dashboards, while performing industry analysis at the same time.

With increasing volume, listening and analytics will be all the more important. We are talking about this at a time when the world is witnessing a pandemic like never before in 100 years, and what we have seen is brands using analytics and social listening to make informed decisions. Big data and allied technologies such as NLP, Machine Learning and AI are going to play a major role.

By Renata Ilitsky

“The need of identifying automated content will become pressing”

Tom Avramis

Interview with Tom Avramis, co-founder and Managing Partner of DataScouting, a software company that provides solutions in media monitoring.

Hi Tom, what is your background and what is included in your current role at DataScouting?

I have worked as a programmer and project manager for over 15 years on various projects and for the last 10 years on media monitoring software. At that point, I decided to found DataScouting with my partner to promote our software to a broader part of the market. Currently, I am the Managing Partner of DataScouting and I overlook most operations in the company, but my passion is to advance our research division to utilize cutting edge technologies in our software solutions.

What differs DataScouting from other technology companies that focus on media monitoring?

DataScouting is a software company that provides intelligent software solutions to media monitoring companies and organizations. We offer our clients cloud and on-premise software solutions for monitoring news and advertisements in broadcast, online/social and print media, including a reporting and delivery dashboard. Our MediaScouting suite is a turnkey solution that fosters the daily production of media monitoring companies of any size.

We are not data aggregators and we do not provide media monitoring services. All our software solutions are built for the cloud, but, depending on the customer use case, they can also be installed on the customers’ premises. We follow an open architecture paradigm, providing our customers with access to APIs, file structure, and the database.

Our software streamlines the daily workflow of all media monitoring companies by allowing companies to minimize the use of human resources typically involved in repetitive tasks that use technologies, such as speech recognition, audio matching, optical character recognition, face/logo detection, text analytics, machine translation, etc.

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?

One of the latest additions to our software suite is a completely new module for advertisement monitoring in broadcast and print.

We are currently working on a major update to our user interfaces with new functionalities, such as dynamic updates, extensive audit and logging dashboards, machine learning enabled visualizations, and new multimodal clip browsing interfaces.

You have done some work with image and video analysis; how far have you come in that area in terms of research and what are you aiming to achieve?

We have created several modules related to image and video analysis that have been integrated into our systems. Examples of these include face, logo, object recognition, and news ticker extraction. One thing that these technologies have in common is the use of machine learning, and, specifically, deep learning and convolutional neural networks, which have revolutionized the field of artificial intelligence in the last few years.

Our face and logo recognition models provide results similar to human accuracy, solving problems that would otherwise be impossible to solve, or, at the very least, require significant human effort. Our goal is to finetune our existing machine learning models using knowledge transfer and minimal human feedback, making them easier to use and more adaptable to changes.

You provide media intelligence software solutions to government bodies. Do they require different solutions than other clients; and if so, how do you work with them to provide that?

Government organizations have similar needs to media monitoring companies, but the solutions we offer them are somewhat unique. For example, media monitoring for government bodies usually focuses on a narrower scope of topics than other companies; additionally they operate in smaller teams and need to work in real time, which requires more software automation. Government organizations have strict security and integration requirements, which other companies typically don’t. Finally, government bodies are interested in compliance monitoring, usually for broadcast media, to check for things like quality compliance with regulations of the aired content.

What type of data or media not currently used for media monitoring today could be interesting to utilize in the future?

Media monitoring started as a service-based on-resource scarcity because it was impossible to read and assess news in all the newspapers and magazines in a given country. Today, media monitoring is based on identifying relevant data as quickly as possible and providing actionable information that allows clients to make knowledgeable decisions.

In the near future, automation, cloud, and machine learning adoption will definitely increase. Additionally, the media intelligence industry will face new challenges as new media formats will appear and automatic content generation will become more common; thus the need of identifying automated content will become pressing.

By Renata Ilitsky

“As more sources become available, the need for professional media monitoring will increase”

Mark Reisz

Interview with Mark Reisz, CEO of Media Info Groep, a Dutch media monitoring company.

Hi Mark, what is your background, and what is your current role at Media Info Groep?

I joined Media Info Groep as a full-time employee right after getting my degree in Business Economics from Erasmus University. I was a second-generation employee in our family business, of which I took full control in the late 90’s.

Currently, I am responsible for all the companies in the group in Almere and Jakarta, especially making sure that all short and long term goals are met. Together with the managers of the various departments, I set the strategic goals. I also take part in the development process of various software solutions.

Having served as CEO for Media Info Groep for over 20 years, what are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of our transition from a traditional MMO where everything was done manually to a fully automated production process where people are still important for selection.

The acquisition of three competitors in the Dutch market is another proud moment that proved that our decision to focus on our quality of services was the right choice. Ever since that moment, focusing on quality has been one of our top priorities.

Additionally, our ability to adapt to the ever-changing market needs and requirements makes us proud.

What has been the most challenging time for Media Info Groep, and why?

We have faced and continue to face many challenges in our history, which spans over 100 years. Recent economic crises were challenging, and the current COVID-19 crisis put additional strain on the production process. However, due to our established processes, we were able to let all our employees in Almere and Jakarta work from home without any disruptions.

Another challenging time we faced was the introduction of copyright fees in the early 2000’s. Customers were reluctant to adhere to the new situation, and we were faced with a high decline in our customer base. Over the years, clients have come to understand the reasons for copyright fees, and the situation is back to normal.

In conclusion, we can say that this millennium has brought with it the greatest challenges so far. Keeping up with all the technological challenges makes life very interesting.

What differs Media Info Groep from other media monitoring companies in the Netherlands?

Media Info Groep is the only true MMO in the Netherlands. We have all the sources in house – we process all the papers (PDFs), gather web content, monitor radio and television, and do our own social media monitoring. Other MMOs only focus on web or social and buy the other sources from us.

Furthermore, we differ from other MMOs because we have actual people choosing the final selections for articles. The search engine does the initial selection, but those results are narrowed down by people before being shown to the customer. Therefore, we can make much better selections than those done automatically; even using sophisticated search engines can’t beat the human mind at this time.

What are the greatest challenges ahead for Media Info Groep when it comes to offering your customers analysis and developing your offer?

The main challenge is getting the customers to understand their own needs and requirements. Media analysis is not an on the shelf product, it’s custom made for every individual customer. AMEC’s frameworks help guide the customer in this journey and quickly sets the requirements. In the end, there is the final challenge to match the offer to the budget, which is probably the biggest challenge in the process.

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 are constantly introducing new offers for our customers. Recently, we added logo detection and voice recognition to our portfolio of solutions.

Although our customers don’t always actually see the work we do to improve our offerings, they certainly notice our constant progress and appreciate the improvements in our processes, which allows us to provide better services in less time.

From your experience, is there a particular case you can share where media intelligence truly made a crucial difference for a client’s business?

I cannot get into specifics on an individual client basis, but we know that media intelligence has made significant differences for customers’ businesses many times over.

For example, a car manufacturer was promoting a particular model as the ideal car for women; however, after the analysis of all the media coverage, it turned out that there was only attention focused on performance and handling aspects in the media, which are typically topics not interesting to most women.

Media intelligence has also led a major bank to reconsider its position as a sponsor of a major sports team as a result of the findings of our analysis. It turned out that there was a mismatch between the values of the bank and the values of the sport.

With the current situation regarding the coronavirus, what would you advise your clients in regards to getting the most benefit from media monitoring?

The pandemic doesn’t change a thing about getting the most out of media monitoring. The most noticeable change is the way people get their news – Dutch publishers currently see a spike in the number of online subscribers.

In what ways has the coronavirus affected your business?

Our top priority was to keep all our employees safe and healthy. Without any disruption to our production process, we managed to get our entire team to work from home within a few days.

Unfortunately, several customers needed to terminate our services because they faced turnovers due to all the restrictive measures in the Netherlands. On the other hand, we have gained new pharmaceutical and medical customers. Overall, we see a decrease in sales, but we are still standing strong and have no need for government support.

Publishers are also hit hard by the crisis, and we see a steady decline in the number of pages and articles disseminated.

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

Media monitoring will become more and more dependent on new technologies. As more sources become available, the need for professional media monitoring will increase. The next generation of challenges is already looming – face, logo and voice recognition are just a few of them. Google and Apple are already offering services in this field, but to transition this into a viable product for large-scale demand causes many sleepless nights for our developers.

By Renata Ilitsky

“Vendors of media intelligence solutions will become brokers of information and insights”

Bastian Karweg

Interview with Bastian Karweg, CEO of Echobot Media Technologies in Germany.

Hi Bastian, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Echobot?

Before founding Echobot, I built and sold a media company in the gaming industry and started the second biggest press release distribution service in Germany. At 33 years old, I hold a master’s degree in informational engineering from KIT.edu, where I still give lectures from time to time about internet law and startup economics.

At Echobot I’m responsible for sales, marketing and finance, whereas my cofounder, Jannis Breitwieser, heads up development and customer success. In terms of product development, we collaborate because we both love elegant engineering and innovative user experience.

What differs Echobot from other media intelligence companies?

I’d say that Echobot is definitely more SMB and B2B focused than other vendors. Many of our clients are from the German “Mittelstand,” which values accurate results and ease of use over fancy analytics.

Also, we believe that aggregation of results is only part of the solution; Echobot invests heavily in building up a semantic layer above the text. Our technology really understands which events are happening and who is affected. This opens up a whole lot of exciting possibilities in the future, like intelligent business assistants!

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

Since we are mostly self-funded, keeping up with our own growth has posed a challenge. The usual growing pains like finding the right talent, scaling our tech or completing projects like our Salesforce integration come to mind.

In terms of customers, an increasing amount of companies feel the need to incorporate data and insights from public sources into their business processes, yet almost everybody has a different approach. So, we offer a lot of guidance and best practices help navigate to the best solutions.

Your solution addresses many parts of your clients’ companies. Can you tell us how Echobot can enhance the performance of a sales team?

Sure, Echobot started out as a solution for PR and marketing teams doing press clipping and social media analytics, yet our solutions for sales and customer development have really gained a lot of momentum.

Basically, the better the information about your client or prospect is, the more deals you are able to close. Echobot helps sales reps  identify the right targets, triggers at the best time to engage and also notifies you if there are relevant changes to entities in your pipeline. It’s an automated sales assistant so you don’t have to google everything yourself.

Can you give a specific example where one of your clients have made changes in their communication, marketing plan or similar, based on the insights or analysis you provided to them?

The very first example that sparked this development is still my favorite story: A vendor of forklifts was in search of new prospects and asked us to identify upcoming constructions of warehouses. In the beginning, we used simple phrase search queries, such as “new warehouse,” but this quickly became very complex so we introduced our machine learning intelligence technology to automatically identify such events as well as the companies associated with such projects. The resulting prospect lists gave the clients an instant double-digit boost in their sales productivity.

You have invested a lot in machine learning; how has that improved your services?

Machine learning is the biggest game changer to any industry in recent years. It allows you to automate tedious manual tasks with near perfect precision and dig through millions of data points to find hidden patterns that you’d never have uncovered otherwise.

To be more specific, we have almost entirely automated our quality control tasks of classifying new media sources. Also our sales solutions which detect so called “business signals” regarding events of great opportunity or risks would not have been possible without this technological advances.

Have you recently, or are you about to, release any new solutions that will add or improve services offered to your clients? If so, what solutions are they, and how will your customers benefit from them?

Everybody who has used a media monitoring solution knows that one of the biggest challenges lies in crafting a complex search agent to reliably match relevant results while at the same time filtering out unwanted spam.

We are currently in development of an intelligent agent which is much better at highlighting precisely the right results a customer is actually looking for. I’m confident that this algorithm will greatly assist the work of human experts.

You are collecting a lot of your own data today; what are the greatest challenges in doing that?

Hosting all our servers in Germany has been a very conscious decision to comply with the very high standards of German data protection laws that our customers demand. Also, we like to be in control of business-critical systems ourselves and not rely on external vendors.

Yet, managing this many crawlers and an index of almost 10 billion documents is no easy feat. The biggest challenges are necessary infrastructure changes that cannot affect our 24/7 service-level. Luckily Moore’s law as well as new big data technologies keep our costs at a predictable level.

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 for your customers?

Currently this would be Facebook for B2C customers and the German XING for B2B focused companies. Yet we see incredible demand for Instagram and also LinkedIn is closing in fast in the business space.

When it comes to the actual data behind media monitoring that you do, what kind of data or media can be interesting in the future that you don’t currently use?

I believe that in the future the actual message itself will be much more important than the medium / channel that you get it from.

You might see this development more easily in the space of web searches; while in the past you would have typed “height Eiffel Tower” into the Google search bar to get a list of websites, today you can just ask Siri or Alexa and they will tell you that it is 300m. Echobot is, as far as I know, the only service focused on building up this kind of meta level data today.

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

In an increasingly digital society, vendors of media intelligence solutions will become brokers of information and insights. It is simply not feasible for the client to manually research, classify and analyze information anymore. Therefore, the need for our services will only increase.

Yet, the whole industry is facing a lot of challenges:

  • From a legal perspective, there are licensing fees, data privacy concerns and the whole ancillary copyright debate.
  • Vendors will need to address the questions about trust of sources and “fake news.”
  • The ever-increasing restrictions of access to popular platforms, paywalls, dedicated mobile apps and “walled gardens” will change who is able to offer which media coverage.
  • Strong convergence towards video content will give rise to new solutions and technology startups for speech and image recognition technology.
  • Language barriers will decrease, especially towards Asian markets due to better translation technology and continuous economic growth in the east.

By Renata Ilitsky

“There is a lot of room for disruptions in the media intelligence industry”

Carlos Alfredo Diaz

Interview with Carlos Alfredo Diaz, General Manager at GlobalNews Group in Argentina.

Hi Carlos, what is your background and what is included in your current role at GlobalNews Group?

I have more than 6 years of experience in Media Monitoring and a previous background in tech startups. In my current role as General Manager of GlobalNews Group, I oversee our day-to-day regional operations as well as execute our long term strategic plans.

What differs GlobalNews Group from other media intelligence companies in Latin America?

The fact that we are the only media intelligence company that covers the whole region in its entirety is certainly a distinguishing factor. We are also renowned for our extensive investment and proficiency in R+D related to AI.

What are the greatest challenges ahead for GlobalNews Group when it comes to providing customer analysis and developing your offer?

Currently our greatest challenges in those two areas are related to the normalization of datasets and sources, as well as the need to educate our client base in order to develop truly useful offerings.

You are operating in 17 countries in Latin America; do you find it challenging to offer comprehensive products and services throughout the region because the region is diverse? If so, in what way?

Offering a limited set of products in a very diversified region is quite challenging; all our products have specific adaptations created by our “localization team” for each market in which they are sold.

Have you recently, or do you plan to, release any new technology based solutions that will add to or improve services you offer to clients? If so, what solutions, and how will they benefit your clients?

We have recently launched an updated version of our website that will allow different customizations for our clients (such as recipes and integrations with a plethora of services), and are currently working on a suite of predictive tools that will allow our clients to both receive recommendations as to which topics matter to their bottom line as well as predict the impact a release might or should (as in benchmarking) have in the current media context.

Are you using the AMEC framework with your clients? If so, how has that improved your clients’ understanding of measurement?

We are currently using the AMEC framework with each and every new analysis client we have. It has helped our clients better visualize and understand the relationship between their work and their bottom line.

You are monitoring many sources yourself in your markets today; what are your greatest challenges when it comes to upholding and developing your own monitoring?

Upholding and developing your own monitoring requires a great deal of capital investment and oversight, but is sometimes needed when a company has requirements as diverse as ours.

When it comes to licensing content for media monitoring in Latin America, which countries are the most progressive, and which are lagging behind?

Brazil is currently the only country where the issue has even appeared, the rest of the region is impervious to it. I believe that licensing has to become a reality in Latin America in the next 10 years.

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

Whatsapp and Telegram would be very interesting to monitor, at least from a macro standpoint.

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

I believe there is a lot of room for disruptions by new players or old players that will reinvent themselves, especially as our space becomes more and more focused on technology.

By Renata Ilitsky

“The media intelligence industry will need to quickly grow their insights and advisory skills”

Francois van Dyk

Interview with Francois van Dyk, Head of Operations at Ornico Group in South Africa

Hi Francois, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Ornico Group?

I studied, taught and worked in Public Relations – having a passion for the journalism, advertising and marketing fields. In my role as Head: Operations at Ornico, I am blessed to work not only in the journalism and PR fields, but also in advertising and social media. I oversee all the Ornico divisions which monitor and analyses editorial, advertising and social media content across various platforms such as TV, radio, outdoor, online, social, print, mobile and even direct marketing. I also serve on AMEC’s Education Committee as well as the IAB South Africa’s Measurement Council.

What do you see as the greatest challenges ahead for Ornico Group when it comes to serving your customers monitoring and analysis and in developing your offer?

The fragmentation of the media space is an obvious challenge as you need to access far more data sources. However the true challenge will come from a data integration perspective – and this includes the client data. To make true sense of data, one will need to integrate media and customer, financial, employee and a myriad of other data in a sensible way. Customers interact with brands across many touch points, not just the media space, and great insights become possible if these disparate data can be combined and analyzed.

Why did you choose to expand your business to Nigeria and Kenya, countries that are quite remote from South Africa?

As our South African clients started expanding their businesses to the rest of the African continent, it was a natural fit for us to move with them as we could provide them with the same services. Kenya is obviously a major player in East Africa, and Nigeria in West Africa, so it makes sense to establish a presence in these regions. Despite tough global economic conditions, a lot of opportunities remain in Africa.

Do you have any specific plans to expand your business in the near future, like opening new markets or offering new products?

We are continuously building relationships across the world with other industry players through our FIBEP and AMEC partnerships, so this has proved very valuable. From a geographical perspective, we will be focusing on this – depending on client demand obviously. We are, however, continuously trying to innovate and improve the client experience so innovative functionalities and services always remain a priority.

All clients have different levels of understanding how media can be analyzed; what is the most common misconception that your clients have?

Though we are working hard to educate clients about the best practices, such as AMEC’s Barcelona Principles, you do find that some are still only interested in AVEs (Advertising Value Equivalents). It astounds me that anyone would be looking at these “values,” as they are fundamentally flawed and wrong. It pains me personally because this behavior by some public relations practitioners is actually very damaging to an industry I am very passionate about.

What is the current situation for licensing content for media monitoring in South Africa? Is the agreement between SAMMA and DALRO still in effect, and does it cover all aspects?

The agreement between DALRO and SAMMA is still in place, although there are negotiations to update it. SAMMA members are very happy to have a central organization to deal with when it comes to copyright fees, but everyone believes a lot more can be done to make membership, payments, distribution and value more streamlined and comprehensive.

Are there specific or typical needs in the South African market for media intelligence that you think differs from the rest of the region, or the world in general?

Our markets are relatively the same as the rest of the world. Our biggest challenge is really to keep services very cost effective as our clients generally do not have the budgets a lot of the international brands have.

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

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are the main social platforms, while there is a great demand for LinkedIn information as well. Facebook, due to its global dominance, will obviously remain very important. Snapchat and other smaller channels have seen very little local adoption at this stage, so it remains to be seen what influence they will have in the African markets. Whatsapp, Wechat and other messaging services are also hugely popular. As social channels tighten access to data due to privacy legislation and their own commercial interests, I suspect it will become a far bigger challenge for brands to gain independent insights.

What kind of data that would help you get better analysis is the hardest to get hold of?

There is obviously a massive amount of data being created – and not all of it is confined in the media space. For proper measurement and evaluation to be conducted, we will need access to a far wider amount of data, and not just from the media space. Clients sit with masses of internal data, whether it is CRM data, sales figures, expenses, marketing, Google Analytics, etc,. which are all in their own silos. Combining relevant data like this with traditional media data to create insights will become a very powerful tool. It is understandably very sensitive data for a brand, which they will not part with easily; hence we have seen the need to grow traditional media intelligence into a more advisory partnership with clients. One can expect a lot of growth in this space.

What kind of data or media that you do not have monitoring on today, can be interesting in the future?

The proliferation of media is an obvious challenge to the media intelligence industry, so I believe the industry will need to find ways to monitor all these new channels. However, as media becomes personalized and a more on-demand service, the audience will also become even more critical. I have long believed that the communication industry has been too obsessed with specific media channels and communication “outputs” in what they would consider ‘vanity” media that many have forgotten about their audiences. The audience will be key in the future.

How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next five years?

Traditional monitoring is relatively stagnant across the world, so the media intelligence industry will need to quickly grow their insights and advisory skills. Major investments will also need to be made into machine learning, artificial intelligence and data sciences. As The Economist recently said “data is the new oil,” but what will give the media intelligence industry an edge over the big technology players will be the human element – both from a client services and an advisory perspective. People do business with people, and this is a fundamental principle that will remain through time.

By Renata Ilitsky

“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

“The pace of disruption to the media intelligence over the next five years will be enormous”

Sean Smith

Interview with Sean Smith, Chief Executive – Media Intelligence at Isentia, Australia and Vice President of FIBEP.

Hi Sean, what is included in your current role at Isentia?

As Chief Executive of Media Intelligence, I am responsible for overseeing the delivery of media intelligence services to 5,000 clients across APAC. My role comes with the usual P&L responsibilities, but ultimately it is about ensuring Isentia remains the market leader and we continue to push for better solutions, products and services for our clients that allow them to stay ahead of the curve.

Outside of my role at Isentia, I am also the current Vice President and Board Member for FIBEP, global association for media intelligence.

What are your greatest challenges ahead at Isentia when it comes to serving your customers analysis and develop your offer?

Giving our clients the right information at the right time; whether it be the first to alert them to breaking news or the delivery of an Insights report that shows the impact of their actions on a story. Our clients are now operating in a media world that is 24/7 and unrelenting. For example, Isentia now ingests around 284 new stories every second. Our challenge is to make sense of all that noise and velocity, and provide our clients with the key information that they need to know.

The challenge is only getting harder, but working in an organisation where our culture is engrained in all things media and being the best, is the challenge we love to answer.

Isentia acquired the content marketing agency King Content in 2015. How has that changed the focus of Isentia’s business proposition?

For quite some time now, Isentia has been looking at how we can work across owned, earned and paid media. Our media intelligence offering has allowed us to play a key role in confirming when something happens and making sense of what it all means for our clients. With content marketing, we can now answer the “what’s next?” question by devising a content strategy that will help brands tell their story and connect with the right audience. Content is nothing without the right strategy. By having robust media intelligence that allows for greater opportunities to uncover unique and timely insights, we can provide the strategic thinking our clients need to connect with their clients through content and change conversations.

The acquiring of King Content is a step further on in the value chain. Does this mean that there are other parts of your business that come further away from generating value, which you are planning to outsource?

Outsourcing has been key to our strategy long before the acquisition of King Content. The media intelligence industry is moving so quickly that we are always looking to expand on the value we can give to our clients. Sourcing for functions outside our core business is one way that we can achieve that as it means we can spend more time thinking and executing new ideas for the parts of the Isentia business that matter most and give key clear points of difference.

APAC is a quite diverse region. What are your main challenges to offer comprehensive products and services throughout the region?

APAC is the fastest growing region in the world, and as you note, highly diverse. The challenge is ensuring we are offering a personalised experience and services tailored to the needs of each country. No two countries look the same. Local knowledge matters and is key to success.

Business culture is unique, and while you need to find ways to adapt, to be successful in APAC, you must balance this investment into the development of your own culture, infrastructure and people.

The media intelligence landscape in Asia Pac is also made more complex by the challenges with language and local markets being highly fragmented.

You are currently Vice President of FIBEP. What are the most important things that an organization like FIBEP can contribute?

Ensuring the industry can continue to evolve and stay relevant. Our industry has players that have their roots as a press clipping agency right through to our newest members that are SaaS platforms and thinking about media content as a data set that can be overlaid with other data sources and smart analytics. It is this diversity in the membership that shows just how fast our industry is changing and the important role that FIBEP can play in helping members to change and continue to be successful.

FIBEP holds an annual conference, which is an important event – the learnings come not only from the key note speakers, but also from the valuable networking that takes place over three days, or should I say three nights!

How do you think or hope FIBEP’s role will evolve in the future?

I hope to see FIBEP continue to explore the changing market trends and best practices so that the media intelligence industry can be progressive or be at the forefront of innovation. To do this, we will need to attract new members. Diversity of our members and the ideas that will evolve our industry will be key, so too is embracing change. FIBEP, through its activities and leadership, will play a role in guiding this, but also connecting the industry with the necessary change agents to help inspire members as they continue to move through this journey.

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

Podcasts and closed, “dark social” messenger apps are great examples of sources that aren’t typically utilised in media intelligence. Dark social is important, and when you look at recent studies, it is clear that dark social is not just occupying a small corner of the Internet, but is now the leading sharing method for news links, which is highly influential. As more and more of us become addicted to our mobile devices, it will be essential that media intelligence organisations can find a way to understand and make sense of this growing channel.

What would be the main challenges in retrieving that data or media?

The obvious answer is access. The best media intelligence organisations have made changes to their strategy to ensure they have strong working relationships with both traditional media and social media platforms. Not all content or data is free and there is a need for a commercial relationship with the owners. The other key consideration here is privacy and ensuring the security of users is protected.

How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next five years?

It is an arms race! Having the best people supported by the best technology will be key. The pace of disruption to the media intelligence over the next five years will be enormous. Automation and the rise of artificial intelligence will mean our industry and a typical media intelligence company will look completely different. Our tech will be smarter and so will our people!

It is going to be an exciting ride. I am looking forward to seeing what we do and how many more problems we can solve for our clients in five years’ time. Media intelligence will be very powerful and will play an even more important role.

By Renata Ilitsky