We all know what computers can do. In media monitoring and analytics – where computerised automation has, of course, led to spectacular advances – the drive for effectiveness, efficiency and value is now as much about what they can't do.
It's about finding the balance between automation and using its wealth of information as the basis for providing human insight and interpretation.
Monitoring services can almost instantly search millions of sources, be they websites, social media, print publications, broadcasts and so on. Using totally automated methods, they can sift and sort using sophisticated algorithms and present the results as spreadsheets, graphs, pie charts or any other form of statistical or visual presentation. They can even flag 'highlights', do subtle cross-referencing of disparate sources, and personalise reports at any organisational level, from global to individual preferences.
It's all part of the ever-expanding world of 'smart' technology, and it has been making a lot of smart people feel redundant. But now the smart people are making a comeback. The human factor is being shown to have a future after all.
That's good news for everyone, of course, and not just those who work in media intelligence.
National Public Radio in the United States responded to this sentiment last year when it asked a veteran journalist to write a brief story about a restaurant company's quarterly earnings report and compared it to what an automated data-driven writing platform could come up with.
The automated version had all the facts and made a comparison with Wall Street expectations based on the estimates of (human) analysts surveyed by investment research. But the experienced journalist's version put the numerical results in a broader market context and had a more rounded, narrative approach. It was also easier and more pleasant to read. It seemed like something typical humans were supposed to digest, as opposed to people who were expected to function like some sort of executive robots.
Similarly, media monitoring can have another level where teams of analysts – ideally including industry-specific experts, and multilingual experts where necessary – turn data into insights. The tracking of brands and sub-brands, marketing campaigns, online reputation indicators, key influencers and market competitors is followed up with tailored analytics reports for busy marketing, communications and public relations departments. With no need to repackage information or write executive summaries, the reports are ready to use at board level.
Beyond the capabilities of automation, human insight can focus on areas on such as:
In all of these areas, the deep analysis that informs decision-making and strategic direction is based on factors that only a human dimension can handle. For example, sorting media sentiment towards a brand into 'positive', 'negative', 'balanced' and 'neutral categories. Or tracking the penetration of key corporate messages beyond the mere mention of keywords to determine if the ideas behind the messages are getting through.
There is no doubt that automation has made media intelligence more efficient and effective. But it has also created the need for a new area of professionalism: media data analysis.
This is not least because many people, in many industries, feel so bombarded with new technology and the data it produces, they have reached the point where they have neither the time nor the inclination to analyse the constant flow of information that contains the insights they need to inform their business decisions. They want someone else to handle the hassle, to cut to the chase.
LexisNexis Analytics combines innovative technology with comprehensive content and human analysis to transform information into actionable intelligence. Find out more here.
p.s. 3 ways you can apply this information right now to better understand news monitoring and analytics