Interview with Raina Lazarova, Co-founder and COO of Ruepoint, a global media intelligence company.
Hi Raina, what is your background and what is included in your role at Ruepoint?
I have spent the last 10 years in the media intelligence space, first at Precise Media Group (UK) followed by a stint as Global Services Director at Kantar Media’s Reputation Intelligence business in the UK where I oversaw international customers and key vendors.
Prior to joining Precise, I was involved in the Business Information and Knowledge Process Outsourcing sectors, working with global companies such as Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones Factiva, LexisNexis, EBSCO.
In 2017, I became one of the founding members and COO of Ruepoint, a global media intelligence business with offices in Ireland, the UK and Bulgaria.
What differentiates Ruepoint from other media intelligence companies?
Undoubtedly, our biggest asset and differentiator is our team. We are very fortunate to have surrounded ourselves with skilled, motivated and passionate people who continue to surprise us every day with their creativity and exceptional effort.
Ruepoint caters for the needs of those customers in the market who need a “white-glove”, fully managed media intelligence service, typically combining media content from a variety of geographies and languages, and therefore requiring a blend of high-touch, multilingual skills, strong domain expertise and capable technology. The services we deliver are typically used by PR and communications teams, the C-suite and other key business stakeholders.
Increasingly, Ruepoint is working on cross-functional requirements, integrating data and seeking to draw insights from a wide variety of data sets from paid, earned, social and owned media, through market research and consumer insights, point-of-sale, and other business data. Customer expectations are constantly rising, and in all fairness, we are deliberately driving this change, as it gives us the opportunity to differentiate ourselves as thought leaders and drivers of change, delivering true value to our customers.
What are your greatest challenges ahead at Ruepoint when it comes to serving your customers and developing your services?
Historically, one of the biggest challenges in our industry has been the commoditisation of the media monitoring market. It is the part of the business that is typically characterised by higher margins, which have been eroded in recent years due to pressure from SaaS providers, promising to deliver the same value at a fraction of the price.
Ruepoint’s response to this trend has been to focus on what we are best at – delivering a high-touch editorial and analysis service, leveraging domain expertise in key industries, coupled with a consultative approach to media measurement.
Do you plan to release any new solutions that will add to or improve the services you offer clients?
We constantly strive to improve the services we offer to customers by listening to what they tell us every day. Often, that involves very specific problems that require custom solutions. We bring in experts from across the organisations, from source management, through editors and analysts, to account managers to build a multi-faceted solution that answers those needs.
All customers come with different levels of knowledge. What are the most common misconceptions that your current and potential clients have regarding what media intelligence can give them?
We treat each customer with full respect, constantly trying to provide thought leadership and best practice to help PR and communications teams excel in their job and deliver demonstrable results to their organisations. We recognise businesses operate in wildly different competitive environments that largely define their communications objectives.
At the same time, I believe that demand is a function of supply and in markets where we see misconceptions about the value of media intelligence it is largely due to the services available to that market. To address a common misconception about media measurement specifically in our home market of Ireland, for example, we have invested heavily in educating the market about the value of integrated measurement in the last four years.
When it comes to the actual data behind the media intelligence you do, what kind of data or media not currently used can be interesting in the future?
As a sector, we need to constantly keep our finger on the pulse of any emerging media and data sources. I expect that private, subscription-based networks and formats such as Patreon and Substack will present the biggest challenge to the industry in the near future. Increasingly, content creators are looking for revenue generating models by publishing their work – podcasts, newsletters etc – to a very targeted audience prepared to pay for this content. How we as an industry go about monitoring these networks will be very interesting to see.
What in this industry has surprised you the most over the years?
It has been fascinating to watch the industry move from a largely “scissors and glue” operating model 10-15 years ago to a technology-driven sector using the latest cloud native infrastructure and AI technology. At the same time, customer requirements, very much helped by the efforts of industry thought leaders and AMEC, have evolved from number crunching to seeking to prove true business value. This has been an incredible journey to take part in for Ruepoint and me personally.
How do you think the media intelligence industry will change in the next 5-10 years, and what are the greatest challenges ahead?
If you had asked the same question 10 years ago, the biggest fear of the industry was the “inevitable” demise of print media with the rise of digital and social. That clearly didn’t happen, which only comes to prove how wrong we can be in our predictions.
I think AI will be increasingly used to aid the human analysis of big data sets, but without replacing the need for cognitive intervention.
A challenge the industry is already facing is the pressure to deliver revenue growth at healthy margins from managed monitoring and evaluation services. I understand why the SaaS model is attractive to shareholders, but I think the market for platform solutions is already highly saturated. Ruepoint is focused on leveraging a mix of high-skilled editorial resources and proprietary tech to deliver the best value-for-money services to customers where and when they matter.
By Peter Appleby