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
I enjoyed reading your perspective, Pawel. Our companies have many similarities as a family business driven by innovation and performance. I hope to see you in Berlin for this year’s FIBEP Congress.