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June 25, 2019

Listen to many, speak to a few

What can you learn from 750,000 social media posts in China each day? Sean Smith of Isentia explores how technology is disrupting market research.

No Facebook. No Twitter. No YouTube. With stifling regulations around social media use, how can New Zealand businesses’ use social media to enter Chinese markets?

The basic premise remains the same – the way in which Chinese consumers engage with social media platforms is not dissimilar to here, nor is their decision-making journey. Needless to say, understanding the landscape is paramount for any company aspiring to capitalise on the booming Chinese economy. It’s certainly an opportunity worth pursuing – this year China’s GDP is estimated to exceed US $12.1 trillion (NZ $16.44 trillion).

An obvious difference from the outset is the sheer volume of online conversations that happen within China’s firewalls.

This is not surprising given the 740 million-odd internet users, and is exacerbated by the fact that social media is a much larger phenomenon in Chinese culture than it is here in New Zealand.

In today’s digital world, this level of activity offers businesses unprecedented access to millions of organic conversations unfolding in the alluring Chinese market – in real time. The million-dollar question is, how can this information be used to help businesses make important decisions about when to launch a product in the market and drive sales?

Givenchy and Mr Bags

A great example of the power of social media in China is the partnership between Givenchy and blogger Tao Liang, better known as Mr Bags.

He uses his encyclopaedic fashion knowledge to retain over 2.7 million Weibo readers and a further 600,000 WeChat followers; keen to be ‘in the know’ on the latest handbag trends and the current “it” bag.

In an act of extreme commercial nous, in 2017 Mr Bags called for his followers to nominate a potential collaborator for the blogger. When Givenchy emerged as the overwhelming favourite, the brand took the opportunity to launch a limited-edition handbag on Valentine’s Day via Mr Bags’ social channels. What followed the announcement was a 12-minute frenzy seeing Givenchy part with 1.2 million RMB’s (NZ$247,000) worth of handbags – a complete sell-out. Needless to say, the campaign was deemed a success.

Listen to many, speak to a few

By now it’s no secret that social media isn’t just a broadcast platform. In fact, true to the proverb “we have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say”, there’s far greater power in using social media to understand a potential customer’s motivations.

In today’s world, social media provides market research on an unprecedented scale.

Once upon a time, businesses invested heavily in market research groups to understand consumer insight.

Test groups were enticed with gift vouchers or free products to partake in a fishbowl-style exercise, where they were asked to provide honest and open feedback as eager marketers and communicators looked on.

Despite questions being developed using the latest, tested methodology and astute moderators, the quality and authenticity of the data was often in question.   

Let me be clear – this has less to do with the methodology and more a reflection that as consumers, we find it much easier to speak the whole truth when we think we’re not being watched.

With such a high level of human involvement, it is also incredibly difficult to collect data consistently and without bias.

Technology: the market research disruptor

Why might technology make consumers more honest and open with their feedback? The truth is people are more honest in a casual setting. Therefore, dialogue about a product or service that’s exchanged in the comfort of someone’s home (behind a screen) will often be more candid than their responses to a survey.

At Isentia, Mediaportal’s cloud-based technology trawls video, audio and digital content across more than 4,400 print items, 1750 broadcast items, 62,500 online news sites, 6 million blogs and 300,000 forums. Processing seven million news items each day a rate of 234 stories per second, it presents summaries to clients in real-time.

For China enthusiasts, the technology mines over 750,000 WeChat and Weibo posts daily and uses this information to unearth the Mr Bags’ opportunities – the people or issues relevant to specific industries – so that businesses can make informed decisions based on both data and sentiment in foreign markets.

What’s more, the nature of social media means the survey technically never ends. Social media listening provides continued real-time pulse checking and the perfect new product incubator. It’s more than watching @mentions and comments pour in via your social profiles, mobile apps or blogs.

“If you’re only paying attention to notifications, you’re missing a huge group of people that are talking about you, your brand and your product.”

The true value is in tracking conversations around specific topics, keywords, phrases, brands or industries, and leveraging these insights to discover opportunities or create content for those audience.

Data – a modern marketing and communications must-have

It is now hard to imagine a marketing and communications industry that doesn’t rely on data to inform strategy, new product development and campaigns.

Much of what took place in marketing and communications teams, even as recently as a decade or so back, was based on assumption. We *think* that this product would be of interest to this audience, so we *figured* the best way to tell them about it would be mostly via a TV ad campaign.

“But data is now essential for any smart and savvy marketer or communicator and presents the opportunity to tap into foreign markets with a level of insight that has never been more accurate or accessible.”

When you combine and embrace the use of technology, social media, and analyse the data that it provides – you can not only quickly test and learn new products, but also give the fans what they want.  

Givenchy were clever and reaped the rewards of listening, embracing and reacting to their consumers’ want, making it big in China. Now it is your time to get onboard and reap the results.

Originally featured in CIO Magazine.

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This is not a list of what to do to be more successful. Or a list about the highly successful morning habits of CEOs and CIOs.

Instead, it’s a call-out to others who read the titles of articles like these on a Monday and sometimes feel exhausted by the amount of additional ‘work’ that is actually recommended to be more productive or successful.

But, it’s not about being lazy either, in fact Australia was listed in Collective Hub’s Top 15 of the world’s most productive countries, so as a nation we still like to get things done.

This is, however, a question as to whether our push for productively has blurred into so many areas of life that we’ve forgotten why we strive to be increasingly efficient in the first place. Are we now too focused on volume, rather than value?

For example, in the last week alone we’ve seen the launch of a five-minute workout video series, been served an ad for an app which gives you the world’s best nonfiction books in bite-sized formats and scrolled past a ‘mindfulness in microseconds’ Instagram post.

While squeezing more into everyday life is a common challenge (and arguably a goal) for many professionals, it does present an interesting behavioural shift where we start to use smart technology to speed up activities that perhaps we shouldn’t.

Working in the always-on media Industry, we work with some of the most pressed-for-time people on a daily basis.

These communications and marketing professionals are dealing with huge amounts of fragmented media across channels that sometimes need urgent attenuation or action, particularly in times of crisis. However, this is where our technology thrives – it puts in the hard yards for them. Crunching huge volumes of data, providing the tools to report, alert, shred and more, and helping to give back time that should be spent on the more important strategic tasks, away from a computer.

From a professional standpoint this could mean more time for pitching ideas, benchmarking results against business strategy or presenting to the board. This is where value is achieved – with time spent on activities that need extra thinking space and deserve focus. From a personal standpoint, this may mean taking time back to pick up the kids from school, getting to yoga or simply enjoying a cup of tea in silence.

It’s not a case about fitting more into the day, but about filling your day with more valuable activities. Smart technology holds so much power in helping us spend less time on task-based needs like emails, to-do lists and life admin to free up the time for (hopefully) more than a ‘mindfulness in microseconds’ quick fix.

Remember, effort is not the same as impact.

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Blog
The push to be ‘on’ by 6am

This is not a list of what to do to be more successful. Or a list about the highly successful morning habits of CEOs and CIOs.

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From programmer to industry leader, as one of Australia’s only Chief Information Officers in technology, Andrea Walsh has shattered the glass ceiling. And she’s championing other women, while she’s at it.

So, is she a game changer? Let’s find out. I’m Sarah Harris. Welcome to Game Changers.

Sarah: Andrea, welcome to Game Changers, now you are one of Australia’s only female CIOs of a technology company. You must see yourself as a bit of a role model?

Andrea: I never thought I was, but having been in the role now for number of years I look around and I do think where are all the other women, where are all the females.

Sarah: And, where are they?

Andrea: There is just a real shortage of women in I.T and technology, which is a real shame.

Sarah: So, tell us a little bit about Isentia and what it actually does.

Andrea: So, Isentia is a media monitoring company. And basically what that means is we take information and news from across varying countries, about 18 countries, multiple languages, and we filter that and disseminate it to what is important to our clients and what are the leading issues that they need to focus on. An average day, there’s about 7 million news items that we’re processing.

Sarah: That is a big job, lots of information to get through. So, what does your role as CIO involve?

Andrea: So, I lead the technology team. We are responsible for all the systems and the technology that processes those 7 million items a day. And we also provide all the services for our clients and tools for them to be able to do their job each day.

Sarah: Why do you think there’s a lack of women in IT roles?

Andrea: I think through education. I don’t think that girls are encouraged to take up sciences and engineering when they’re younger. It’s very much seen as, ‘it’s for the boys’. I think it starts really early on. And then I also think women don’t put themselves forward necessarily for opportunities, and roles to re-train. And maybe say, I might be interested but unless I’m absolutely sure I not going to give it a go.

Sarah: You are quoted as saying, “we’re on the cusp of a technological revolution”. What are you most excited about?

Andrea: There is so much. I think that’s what’s exciting. I think with cloud technology, it’s enabled a lot of organisations to be able to experiment with technologies. And things like artificial intelligence, so looking at machine learning. And I think that will really shape future roles and jobs.

Sarah: You really passionate, which I love, about women moving up in the industry. In particular, girls learning how to code. For someone who is not as technologically advanced as you, perhaps, explain to me what coding actually is.

Andrea: It’s basically creating something using computer and technology. Sometimes, yes, it has to be, or can be, detailed lines of programming. But some of the tools that are available, especially to young children who are interested in coding, enables kids to build stories, cartoons and make videos.

Sarah: The number of girls studying, as you said before, STEM, which is science, technology, engineering and mathematics, it is slowly increasing. Which is brilliant. But it’s not at a rate of ‘the boys’ just yet.

Andrea: No. Certainly not. And I think that it is great that it is slowly increasing. But it’s got a considerable way to go.

Sarah: Well, how do we change that?

Andrea: I think again, it goes back to the education. It’s encouraging girls and young children to get involved in these subjects. And I also think that they have maybe a brand, or an image, issue with engineering and IT often see as ‘it’s for the boys’. I think it’s also about the parents and the carers. So often we teach our children when they come home about doing their homework, reading, writing, maths. But what about the children who want to learn technology, and they want to learn to code? And if the parents aren’t IT, how do they support them. So I think it’s really about, as I say, the education, but then also then about the parents and finding these great programs that are out there to give the kids opportunity.

Sarah: Your daughter is eight and she’s already taken an interest.

Andrea: When I first showed her the iPad, she just took it instantly. It was quite amazing to experience. We certainly encourage here to use it. There’s s o many educational programs for children that you can use on the iPad. So I’m a big advocate of it.

Sarah: It does bring up that other thing as well, because I have a little boy who’s 18 months, and he’s very savvy when it comes to technology. You know, he’s coming up to the television and trying to swipe it like an Ipad. But I do kind of worry that (you know) we’re introducing technology to these kids too early, because there’s been research that show that it’s actually changing the chemistry of the brain. When should we be introducing this sort of stuff to our kids? Because as a parent you sort of think to yourself, I don’t want my kids to have their head in technology all the time. But at the same time, you don’t want to hold them back, because that’s the future.

Andrea: I think its each individual parent’s choice. For our daughter’s, Charlotte, we introduced it quite early on, so it was before kindergarten. But we’re very strict with her, both from what she can do on there and so content she can see. And also how long she spends on there, because the last thing we want is to build a relationship and the communication is with the back of an Ipad all of the time.

Sarah: IT is a well-paying field, but there id still a gender pay gap when it comes to technology, isn’t there?

Andrea: Where I work at Isentia, we pay the market rate and we pay on skills regardless of gender. But it is a known issue within many industries and with many organisations and that’s something we need to address.

Sarah: What advice you want to give to women that you mentor?

Andrea: I would say, seek every opportunity. Just go for it – what can you lose at the end of the day? I think work with other areas of the business as well; get to know the business and the industry in which you work. Do things that are potentially outside your remit so you can learn and grow from them.

Sarah: You are a trailblazer and a Game Changer. Thank you for joining us today.

Andrea: Thank you.

Disclaimer: Featured in Game Changers

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Blog
Isentia’s CIO, Andrea Walsh on Game Changers

From programmer to industry leader, as one of Australia’s only Chief Information Officers in technology, Andrea Walsh has shattered the glass ceiling. And she’s championing other women, while she’s at it.

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Isentia, a leading provider of media intelligence and analysis services, is proud to announce the launch of “The Conversation of Sport: Representation of Women in Sports News Coverage,” in partnership with the Office of Women in Sport and Recreation. This research aims to bring awareness to gender inequality in sports, and attention to address the underrepresentation of women in sports media.

The purpose of this research is to establish a baseline of the current coverage of women’s sport and women in sport in Victoria, providing crucial data to advocate for improved representation moving forward. Isentia's expertise in media monitoring and analysis plays a pivotal role in gathering independent, transparent data to assess the current landscape accurately.

"Equal representation in sport is key in shaping the way we view the world…This research represents a key step forward in reducing the gap in coverage for women in sports news. It directly supports the media and sporting organisations with independent, transparent data of current performance in this space.," said Ros Spence Minister for Community Sport

This research shows that the coverage of women’s sport in the media remains significantly lower than that of men’s sport, with only 15% of sports news coverage in Victoria focusing on women’s sport in 2022-23. Isentia's collaboration with Change Our Game aims to highlight this disparity by empowering media outlets with the data and tools necessary to increase the visibility of women in sports news.

Isentia and its partners envision a future where strong representation of women in sports media contributes to the professionalisation of women’s elite sport, dismantles limiting stereotypes, and promotes inclusivity at both the elite and community sport levels. This collaboration sets the stage for a more equitable and diverse sports media landscape, where the stories and achievements of women athletes are celebrated, amplified and contribute to a stronger ecosystem for women's sport.

"Through our partnership with OWSR, we are hopeful that this research will shine a light on the current state of play of sports news, and the impact this can have on the support and participation in women’s sport. While the findings are confronting, having this baseline will help drive positive change." said Ngaire Crawford for Director of Insights and Research, Isentia. 

"We believe that by working together, we can drive meaningful change and create a more inclusive sporting environment for women and girls everywhere."

What We Hope For the Future:

Through our partnership with Change Our Game and the Victorian Government, we hope to pave the way for a future where women in sport are celebrated and recognized on equal footing with their male counterparts in the media. By increasing the visibility and representation of women in sports media, we aim to inspire the next generation of athletes, journalists and content creators and drive positive change towards a more inclusive and equitable sporting landscape. Together, we can create a world where every athlete, regardless of gender, has the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

About Change Our Game:

Change Our Game is an initiative by the Victorian Government aimed at achieving gender equality in sport and active recreation. Through advocacy, funding, and partnerships, Change Our Game works to address systemic barriers and promote inclusivity and diversity across all levels of sport.

About Isentia:

Isentia is a leading provider of media intelligence and analysis services, helping organisations make informed decisions based on actionable insights from media data. With a comprehensive suite of solutions, including media monitoring, analysis, and insights, Isentia empowers clients to stay ahead in an ever-evolving media landscape.

Select to be taken to Change Our Game's full report

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Blog
Isentia co-launches report: Representation of Women in Sports Coverage 2022-23

Isentia, a leading provider of media intelligence and analysis services, is proud to announce the launch of “The Conversation of Sport: Representation of Women in Sports News Coverage,” in partnership with the Office of Women in Sport and Recreation. This research aims to bring awareness to gender inequality in sports, and attention to address the […]

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The story around supermarket prices has been evolving for a number of months, finally reaching an inflection point as the Woolworth’s CEO appeared in a challenging interview with Four Corners and then announced his upcoming retirement only two days later.This chain of events underscores the critical importance of understanding the connections made by broadcast media, as they can significantly influence public perceptions and shape the narrative surrounding key industry players.

https://www.reddit.com/r/PublicRelations/comments/1aukych/australia_woolies_ceo_interview_mishap/?share_id=S-JDSwqI-UlHg_mIeTlkg&utm_content=2&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=ioscss&utm_source=share&utm_term=1

It was only the latest in a series of media items to seize Australia’s attention, and cast the nation’s supermarkets into something of a PR and Comms crisis.

And yet, viewing events through this framing also only gives a partial picture. As the discussion surrounding the impact of supermarkets on the rising cost of living intensifies, we've observed a notable surge in the usage of terms such as 'shrinkflation' and 'skimpflation'. Reaching back even further, we can see how the topics attained a gradually greater place on Australian news and social channels. Shrinkflation and skimpflation are tactics employed by supermarkets during economic challenges. Shrinkflation involves reducing product sizes while maintaining prices, subtly passing on costs to consumers. Skimpflation maintains product sizes but compromises on quality to preserve profit margins. These strategies often frustrate supermarket shoppers, especially during economic strains like inflation.

Clearly, the topic has become ubiquitous. But if we want to understand how information and perceptions have been communicated to mainstream Australian audiences, then it becomes vitally important to pay particular attention to broadcast media. 

Broadcast media (which includes television, radio and podcasts)  plays a pivotal role in shaping public discourse and influencing perceptions, particularly on pressing issues such as the cost of living crisis. 

Using Isentia to monitor these data sources, we gain valuable insights into their contribution to consumer attitudes. From identifying which organisations are most associated with the issue to pinpointing key public figures and preferred channels within radio and TV, broadcast media monitoring allows us to understand the complex dynamics that shape public opinion.

It’s the oldest of these media types which accounts for the most mentions of the supermarket crisis. Beyond reporting updates on the senate inquiry and government actions, radio excels in facilitating in-depth conversations between hosts and listeners, which surfaces more individual consumer stories than television or podcasts can match.

ABC's predominant coverage of the topic corresponds with the network's content strategy. Major programs such as the Supermarket Four Corners special and podcasts like The Briefing attract substantial listenership and garner attention from other channels. Channel 7, in addition to delivering key news updates, focuses on the shopper experience within supermarkets, shedding light on everyday challenges faced by audiences, such as navigating shrinkflation and skimpflation tactics.

Understanding the majority share of broadcast channels within this topic is important as it reflects who has the loudest voice, and is most persistently advancing a certain narrative or way of framing the situation. 

Coles and Woolworths dominate the conversation, reflecting their prominent presence in the retail landscape. Their widespread accessibility and familiarity to consumers make them prime subjects for discussion in the context of rising costs and economic pressures. 

Conversely, Aldi and IGA, while still significant players in the grocery market, may receive comparatively less focus in these discussions. Aldi's reputation for offering lower-priced alternatives and IGA's decentralised business model, with independently owned stores, may also contribute to their reduced presence in conversations about supermarket practices during times of economic strain. 

Each channel and network approaches discussions about supermarket groups differently. While Coles and Woolworths understandably dominate each station's broadcasts, the precise balance (and the time afforded to Adi and IGA) is revealing.

For instance, 4BC has encouraged audiences to diversify their shopping habits, with one 4BC broadcaster highlighting that "Aldi and IGA are actually doing more than the other two to really help enormously with the cost of living."

In the discourse on supermarket practices during the cost of living crisis, a number key figures emerge across broadcast channels. Anthony Albanese, the Australian Prime Minister, is predictably prominent on just about every channel, particularly broadcaster 2SM. 

All of them, that is, apart from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which spotlights Allan Fels, an economist and former ACCC chair who has analysed price gouging by major corporations. Other notable politicians mentioned include Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Craig Emerson, Steven Miles, and David Littleproud. 

Media's focus on these figures is crucial for shaping public discourse and policy responses amid economic pressures. While supermarkets are often discussed as a key antagonist in the cost of living crisis, they are increasingly being viewed in the context of potential solutions, particularly regarding government policy to regulate supermarket giants.

At the same time, focus does not only fall on the prominent individuals driving business decisions and policymaking. Country Hour (NSW), for instance, focused a story on cherry grower Michael Cuneo, who ceased selling to supermarkets after he made a financial loss on a shipment of fruit. And it was this story that achieved the greatest media reach of any radio content on the topic.  

Clearly then, the topic has not played out in any one way across any one channel. The prominence of key figures and top broadcast channels in this conversation underscores the importance of understanding how media coverage impacts public discourse and regulatory decisions. Isentia's broadcast capabilities offer unparalleled insight into the role of broadcast media in shaping the narrative surrounding supermarket practices. By harnessing Isentia's monitoring and analysis tools, organisations can gain deep insights into how influential discourse and coverage can impact an industry. 

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How Australian broadcast media has shaped the cost of living crisis narrative

The story around supermarket prices has been evolving for a number of months, finally reaching an inflection point as the Woolworth’s CEO appeared in a challenging interview with Four Corners and then announced his upcoming retirement only two days later.This chain of events underscores the critical importance of understanding the connections made by broadcast media, […]

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