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Media Monitoring - Are you using it right?

The impact of media coverage is no longer a topic that is just discussed and managed by in-house media relations teams and their advisers, it’s now a topic that is routinely discussed in Board meetings. Quality media intelligence is now being used for ever wider strategic decision making and reputation management, but it all starts with effective monitoring.

Media monitoring is nothing new, in fact when Charles Lindbergh made his debut flight across the Atlantic in 1927, he subscribed to a media cuttings agency to monitor media interest (something he surely came to regret, given the volume of media). Back then, Charles would have been posted a cut out of the clipping mounted on paper, and then later in the 20th Century this was substituted with e-mail delivery. By the time social media became mainstream, the pace of change was beginning to challenge media and marketing industries alike.

With the huge volumes of online content, the media industry was struggling to work out how to monetise itself in a predominantly online world. If that didn’t prove enough of a challenge, the rise of social media began to further fragment the industry and destabilised the staple publisher as a breaking news organisation or the single go-to source for loyal readers. In a modern world where anyone can break a news story with social networking sites such as Twitter and single individuals have the ability to broadcast to millions, media monitoring companies had the opportunity to accelerate its evolution to create a more integral, wider media intelligence industry. Because whilst the increase in volume of channels became a challenge, it was also providing valuable feedback for brands.

Rather than just adding, amongst others, social media, online video and broadcast as further channels to monitor, this wealth of available information has heightened how analysis and evaluation are a key feature of media intelligence. What this increase in volume has taught brands is that it is not enough to simply know that you have been written or spoken about – for example, what can a business infer from knowing that it had been mentioned 500 times overnight? Knowing if it is positive, negative or neutral can be a useful start, but true analysis and evaluation can put this information to much greater use and inform brand strategies and enable effective reputation management. The deeper the insights, the more this is used outside the marketing department.

Monitoring and analysis – how it differs across various media channels

The internet has also helped to create a shift towards automated monitoring services. Whilst this may drive down costs, the lack of any human analysis or interaction means that someone, somewhere will still be required to review the coverage to make sense of what has been written. When this is further complicated by the addition of social media and other online mentions, this is far from strategic and fails to take advantage of the opportunity this wealth of data can deliver. Monitoring should not be seen as a standalone product, but as a means to an end. Now we can make sense not just of outcomes, but intent, cause and effect too. For marketing and brand strategies, this is the nirvana, but we are still very early on in the adoption phase.

How is it being used?

The ability to make sense of what is being written and said about you has resulted in media intelligence now being used widely across marketing teams as well as by the board. It’s not just brands that are using these tools differently, but agencies too are increasingly making them part of the working week. From campaign and strategy planning to budgeting and ROI, these insights are so much more than a reactive tool for marketing teams. This shift from the ‘what’ to the ‘why’ has raised the bar to include board reporting, strategy development and horizon scanning too, creating a dynamic shift from hindsight to foresight. With good insight being partly forward looking, good media intelligence is capable of helping marketing and wider management teams anticipate what is coming next and therefore, how best to plan for it. It is this insight that is increasingly important for the C-suite in many organisations.

Continued evolution of the analysis industry

As professionals continue to learn to make sense of what is being written and said about them, more insight is being drawn from the bulging content, enabling more effective and efficient marketing strategies. Brands and agencies that continue to stick to traditional monitoring only approaches will be left behind by those that are creating insight, rather than instinct, lead marketing strategies. In an increasingly competitive world, the pressure to provide demonstrable ROI to support budgets for future campaigns will only serve to further drive this shift. 

We believe that media intelligence will ultimately form part of a daily board report and will extend beyond marketing teams to inform wider business planning. The rapid change in media and publishing has been a huge challenge, but this is a great opportunity for marketing departments and agencies to demonstrate their value. So like all good challenges, we go through a bit of pain and adventure as we learn, but we’ll be a completely different industry on the other side.