Media Analytics: Look Back and Look Forward
As 2019 winds down, it’s time to reflect on the year in media analytics, and then look ahead to what’s on the horizon for 2020.
The buzzwords this year have been artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, automation, quality scores, data-driven insights and crisis communications. And how many times have you heard or read about fake news in 2019?
Let’s start with the growth of AI and machine learning, which became more commonplace this year. These technologies help companies to understand and predict opportunities and issues, sometimes before they even emerge.
Because of this trend, more organizations became interested in automation in 2019. But at the same time, many brands also realized the importance of insights in their media intelligence to drive future strategy and make data-based business decisions.
As a result, many companies started to implement a media quality index this year. For example, Zignal Labs’ Media Quality Score leverages AI, machine learning and natural language processing to clearly demonstrate earned media impact to the C-suite.
In other 2019 trends, fake news increased, while deepfakes became a growing concern. Both of these will continue to pose a threat next year and require new ways of thinking. A corporate and brand disinformation strategy should be a key component of a 2020 crisis communications plan.
It is more important than ever before for comms professionals to understand and stay ahead of the curve by establishing a meaningful media analytics program. To do so, be sure to have the right analytics platform, an up-to-date strategy and a solid crisis communications plan.
Notably, Business2Community stated that companies focusing on data-driven marketing are up to six times more profitable year-over-year than businesses that do not.
With that in mind, let’s review this year in detail, and then look forward to the new year.
AI, Machine Learning, Automation and Quality Scores
In 2019, more businesses discovered that artificial intelligence and machine learning make it easier to summarize thousands of media stories, and recognize context, anomalies, themes and messages. These technologies can also be helpful in predictive analytics, determining patterns and anticipating future outcomes and trends.
An article in Forbes last June noted: “What AI has been able to do in the wake of big data and analytics has far outpaced any human ability. Indeed, big data would be completely useless if we relied on human brains to process it. One of the largest groups to benefit from AI’s superhuman powers are marketers using AI and machine learning to better grow their audiences.”
Two months later, in a follow-up Forbes article, Pooja Malpani, head of engineering at Bloomberg Media Group, said the one technology that has had the greatest impact on media consumption is data analytics, with AI and machine learning. She added that algorithms and machine learning are an increasingly important part of most media strategies. “Brands are analyzing user data to target their most relevant user segments and to determine which content generates the best revenue.”
In March, Digitalist Magazine stated: “Advanced analytics let brands capture the big picture by studying data, which in turn lets them drill down to the small picture correctly.” The article also noted that automation has become a critical component for companies that want to remain competitive in the digital space. “According to CMO.com, more than 90% of the most successful digital marketers note that automation is a key to their success, and 77% of CMOs say they implement automation as a way to drive up revenues.”
At the same time, more and more comms professionals think that automation also has to go hand-in-hand with media quality scores and data-driven insights, to help them understand how their brand, values and reputations are perceived, and also help the C-Suite make business decisions.
Fake News and Deepfakes
Fake news was also prevalent in 2019. Fake news is often defined as disinformation that aims to manipulate public opinion in mainstream media and social platforms. Collins Dictionary identifies it as “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting.”
Deepfakes is an insidious form of disinformation – phony videos that create fake news and malicious hoaxes to target influential people and influence public opinion. A specific technology studies videos of a person, learns to mimic that person’s speech and behavioral patterns, and then creates a new, fake video file that is almost indistinguishable from the original.
Deepfakes grew to prominence when faces of celebrities were added to pornographic video clips in 2017. But last year, as deepfake technology improved, fabricated videos emerged of politicians and other newsmakers, and rapidly went viral. A solution to detect deepfakes at scale has not yet been developed in a real-life scenario, although strides have been made in research labs.
Looking Ahead to 2020
Fake news and deepfakes will continue to create headlines next year. And while crisis planning has always been a critical part of a communications blueprint, the threat of disinformation means you must be even more prepared in 2020 with a new and diligent approach.
First, archive all of your original comms material to combat fake news and deepfakes; press releases, media interviews, speeches, news conferences, bylined articles, or anything said publicly by senior leadership and other company spokespeople will unveil the truth and provide an accurate defense against disinformation.
Next, update your crisis communications plan with a new infrastructure to catalogue these archived files and make them easily accessible, so your team can quickly respond to any type of fake news.
Of note, the importance of your media analytics platform continues in the new year. If properly executed, an in-depth analytics program – with of catalogued archives , AI, machine learning, automation and a media quality score – can provide relevant and actionable insights to shape and drive business decisions in 2020.
AI and machine learning are becoming more adept at recognizing speech, images and natural language, which means organizations will likely rely on these technologies even more in the future.
This year has been challenging for communications professionals, and 2020 could bring even more changes, as well as new threats and risks. Make sure your senior leadership team, analytics team, spokespeople and all communications managers are aware of disinformation campaigns, in addition to the value of AI and machine learning.
The best step to take to protect your company and brand is to be prepared – with a meaningful media analytics program that includes AI, machine learning, automation, insights and a media quality score, as well as an up-to-date crisis communications plan with a detailed disinformation strategy.
A clear and measurable communications approach will help you keep pace with or get ahead of your competition in the new year.
Stay tuned for more from Zignal Labs about disinformation and how it is affecting businesses. In the meantime, learn more about trends for 2020 in Zignal’s latest special report, “The Next Decade of Communications: Data Analytics Trends and Takeaways for 2020 and Beyond.”