Isentia's Russ Horell on social media, influencers and the future of journalism.
Gone are the days of media monitors delivering clients a
package of newspaper cutouts each morning, but that doesn't mean
monitoring is no longer required.
Rather, it's as
important than ever clients have a pair of eyes on the news gaining
attention across the expanding media landscape.
Russ Horell, Isentia’s New
Zealand country manager, has been in the media monitoring world for 11
years and in that time has seen it go from a job of cutting out
newspapers and faxing them through to clients, to broadening the view to
cover websites and social media, and feeding all the media to clients
via an app.
“It seems like a light year ago”, says
Horell when thinking about how far news media has come since the morning
newspaper was the news breaker, adding that while it can be daunting
and tempting for clients to run and hide, it should rather be seen as an
amazing opportunity to talk to customers, voters or whoever their
audience might be.
“If anyone is not embracing social media then it’s time to jump on that bandwagon.”
because social media happens in real time, unlike a newspaper going to
the printer the night following the news, monitoring social media raises
the importance of knowing what is happening in real time.
"If you are just looking at what happened yesterday, you’ve got your eye off the ball.”
response to these changes, Isentia has jumped on a bandwagon to improve
its offer to clients. It’s working with the machine learning aspect of
AI to take a wider scope with its monitoring, looking beyond client’s
specified search terms that they know they are interested in, in order
to create a bigger picture.
“Growing up and watching Blade Runner and The Terminator,
it seemed a bit grim. But we think of machine learning as something
that can do those tedious tasks a lot better and quicker so we can do
more creative things,” says Horell.
Ford as an example, he says it can cluster stories relating to other
automotive brands and industry topics as well as just stories about Ford
and its people. It will also look at how important stories are based on
how many people are looking at them and whether it's controversial or
“No longer are clients
saying: ‘I’m going tell you what I need to know and then you tell me
when it happens’. It’s us saying: ‘Hey, there’s something that’s
happening here, it’s getting bigger and you need to be across’.”
not only can it see what is happening in real time, Horell adds AI is
also allowing it to assess and predict the best strategy to moving
forward by taking a look at what did and did not work, in past
The rise of the influencers
clustering stories and looking at all forms of media to see what’s
earning attention, an unexpected outcome has been going down what Horell
calls “the rabbit hole” of influencers.
He says they’ve been popping up alongside stories on the front pages of The New Zealand Herald and questions are being raised about the importance of their influence and monitoring of Instagram and influencers.
at Asian markets as an example of why attention needs to be paid, he
says those social influencers can have the same credibility as news
media. Tech Wire Asia, elaborates on this point saying influencers are taking off due to Asia Pacific’s highly social populations.
the same article questions whether the influencer market bubble is
bursting as the audience is becoming hardened to commercially-motivated
posts. It suggests digital marketers revise their approach if their
messages are not to get dismissed.
closer to home at New Zealand and Australian markets, Horell says while
influencers may not take off to the same level here as that in Asian
markets, the same fundamentals apply and the early adopters who get it
right have a big opportunity to be ahead of the curve.
think it’s here to stay and we can look to our Asian brothers and
sisters to see what’s it’s going to look like here in few years’ time.”
Homing in on the media
beyond the innovation taking place in Isentia to monitor media across
all media in all places, it’s also looking at location-based monitoring
and homing in on an area to see what’s going on there.
gives the example of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, at which
Isenta will be analysing and evaluating all media coverage received to
up to and during games.
To do that, it’s created ring
fencing around stadiums to see what people are talking about within the
area. Whether it’s the queues or warm beer, the insights will enable it
to identify key markets, customise messaging and track sentiment to
'Share the Dream' – the campaign line for the games.
it was announced that Isentia was the official supplier to the Gold
Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games back in February last year, it was already
able to show the mascot—a blue surfing Koala called Borobi—had
generated more than 3000 news articles since April 2016.
From letters to comments
back to the days of cutting out newspaper articles, another change in
the media landscape is those with opinions to share no longer putting
pen to paper in a letter to the editor.
they can comment directly below a social post or a news story, and when
Horell put it to clients to identify their most important social media
platforms at a recent event, comment sections sat alongside Snapchat and
“Comment sections give new life and legs to stories,” he explains, adding that it’s only if the website allows.
Some, like RNZ, have disabled comments as well-researched options would descend into a few people bickering among themselves.
fine for something to go off-topic but not wildly off-topic and frankly
between that and moderating comments through Facebook, and we get
vastly more comments on Facebook, we thought it better to focus on those
areas,” said RNZ community engagement editor Megan Whelan when speaking to StopPress about the decision.
about the irrelevant and incorrect comments that comment sections can
attract, Horell looks at the move to paywalls – pointing out NZME’s
announcement earlier this year that it plans to put a one around its
premium journalism – and how they may have an impact on the tone of
He says suggestions have been
made that the point of view of comments sections may become limited to
those who chose to pay to get behind the paywall.
The future of journalism
the same way Isentia has changed the way it’s monitoring the media for
clients, Horell sees the way in which journalists search for
stories changing—so much so the days of press releases may be limited.
are so many different avenues and ways to get your message out there,”
he says, giving the examples of Facebook and Twitter. So rather than
sending out a press release to break a story, he sees them needing a
rethink to possibly be something that directs people back to a website.
looking further into the future, Horell says Isentia us looking into
how its products will be able to sit within Google Glass or a chip that
might integrate news into people’s lives.
I’m going to an interview with you, my app will tell me all the news
articles you have written over the last 20 days so I can keep up to date
with what you are doing and it will show me your LinkedIn profile so I
know you connect with people that I also connect with, so we’ll have
things to talk about. On top of that, I’ll know on my way there that
there will be roadworks.”
It's an advancement that may
have some quiver in fear, but Horell points out it should be seen as
something that's "more exciting than worrying".
“Our lives will become more customised and things like AI will allow that."
Originally published at stoppress.co.nz.