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Using analysis to enhance media monitoring

Imagine a world where media monitoring costs nothing. Sure, this might sound far-fetched, but is monitoring not simply providing the raw data required to conduct analysis that gives insight on a company?
In 2009, American writer Chris Anderson published 'Free: The Future of a Radical Price'. In it, he examined the rise of pricing models that give products and services free to customers. Anderson argued that this could be used as a strategy to attract users and up-sell them to a premium level with other value-adds.

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The 'freemium' model

Despite the criticism it received, many online businesses have subsequently adopted the 'freemium' model for a variety of goods and services. And yet, traditional organisations baulk at the idea of offering something for nothing in spite of the potential for retaining existing customers and gaining new ones.

Think about it. What does media monitoring actually entail? At its heart, it captures editorial or advertising content by subject, industry, publication, journalist, and so on. It then presents that content to a public relations agency or corporate customer as the coverage received for a specific campaign. And while monitoring companies have been around for a long time, evolving technology has seen many PR firms and even corporates taking the monitoring function in-house.

Irrespective of whether it is qualitative or quantitative, media monitoring on its own means very little. It is just a collection of data and statistics which really do not provide any value. The real reason why monitoring is needed is the realistic, objective, and honest interpretation of that data and statistics.

Managing monitoring internally

So what has this to do with the 'freemium' model? Well, the model certainly provides media monitoring agencies with food for thought to offer more value-added services that are designed to enhance the standard monitoring offering.

Just the fact that monitoring agencies are not always the first port of call when it comes to these services should already be cause for concern.

Limited budgets mean that monitoring is seen as something that is best managed internally. But this should not be the case. Monitoring still remains a specialist skill. Yes, anybody can set up an RSS feed that tracks coverage but it does not give the complete picture.

Tailored to benefit everyone

Today, a new kind of monitor is required that provides analysis as an integrated offering. Monitoring should be seen as a matter of course with the real value-add coming from interpreting the raw data and statistics. It is in the analysis where monitors can make their money. By being able to structure their services in a way to enhance monitoring with specialist analysis, they will be in a position to differentiate themselves from competitors.

Granted, this will not be an easy move to make. Already, there is a degree of cost integration that will be required given the cost of getting broadcast and print clippings. But this does not mean media monitors need to blindly adopt the 'freemium' model and hope for the best. Offerings should be tailored to benefit both clients and the monitors themselves.

The takeaway is that things need to change in media monitoring. Whether the monitors are up for the change is immaterial. They have to evolve or close down.

About Jaco Pienaar

Jaco is an MA Information Science graduate who specialises in research, analytical framework development, and content analysis. His thesis was on Intellectual Capital measurement and he applies this to his framework developments as well as knowledge strategies. Professionally, Jaco has worked in the journalism field, academic environment, multi-national research environment, and media analysis environment. He is currently the Chief Knowledge Officer at Professional Evaluation and Research.
Todd Murphy
Jaco: Great article and you are spot on with 2 of 3 points. First, reliable measurement of monitored news is the end game. Second, adding value to the Big Data that is collectively news monitoring is where the innovation should be focused. The one misstep is that there's a difference between do-it-yourself monitoring and professional monitoring. Professional services capture everything, index it all with meta data, and prepare it for analysis. 99% of DIY, in-house Google News users can't do this. Secondly, professional services pay licenses and royalties to make sure the data they use is compliant with copyrights. Don't get me wrong, your analysis is the most accurate I've read in 23 years. But you might want to consider that both the chicken and the egg are needed, how they are priced will increasingly differ. Thank you!
Posted on 3 Apr 2014 16:06
Jaco Pienaar
Thank you so much for the comment and insights Todd. We are indeed in an interesting time in the media monitoring and measurement industry. I do agree 100% with you that DIY media monitoring has a (significant) number of barriers and difficulties, especially in terms of meta-data, comprehensive capturing, and, of course, as you've mentioned, copyright and compliance. Also, of course, working in a media monitoring and analysis company I understand how specialised quality tracking is and all the finer points that DIY monitors might not necessary consider. However, it is certainly a scary (albeit exciting) time for professional monitoring companies - continuous digitization of media overall and information collection trends are leading to a more self-empowered industry. This is why I like to emphasize the point regarding value-added services. Quality meta-data (as you've mentioned) being one of them. Strategic relationships and insights another. The list goes on an on. Professional media monitoring does have significant value, but we continuously have to push this and raise our game to be assured of our place in the future.
Posted on 3 Apr 2014 18:06