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The media monitoring and research industry is under an intense spotlight as it rises to the call to ingest massive amounts of data to distill and interpret distinct voices, flag improper posts, and track sentiment and brand references in near real-time for clients. In a world where fake news, deepfakes and alternative facts play on the same field as unbiased commentary and social discourse, media monitoring feeds the need to bring more clarity amid the noise. As it becomes increasingly challenging to separate the signal from the noise, media monitoring companies are being held to a high standard to deliver accurate insight.

To meet these cultural forces and rising customer demands, many monitoring firms as well as in-house functions are enlisting new technologies that expand their capabilities and services, while shifting to more agile business and operating models. Today’s media landscape would have been unfathomable even a decade ago. Only those media monitoring firms that can anticipate and keep pace with market and demand changes by adopting advances in automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies will strengthen their differentiation and competitive edge.

Media monitoring firms have extensive digital capabilities, which are essential to delivering customer insight for observations and decision-making. However, technology alone can’t replace the value of human intelligence. Experts in data mining, analysis and interpretation as well as those with social-science skills all play an essential and differentiating role in meeting exacting customer requirements. Their mission, however, grows increasingly complex as online channels swell and content soars. They must account for cultural nuances, sentiment, severity and inference when analyzing both structured and unstructured data.

Automation can play an important role in helping marketing teams know where and how frequently ads appear, which audiences are reached, or how messages are perceived. With the help of AI algorithms, defense organizations can receive early signals to a potential physical security risk that might occur in a particular region. Mission-critical monitoring requests call for a tighter union of humans and machines, working together to deliver faster and more accurate insight.

As customers become increasingly obsessed with speed to insight and demand immediate visibility into real-time events, the sprint to be the fastest has only begun. Traditional media monitoring organizations are being threatened by many market trends. Here’s where we suggest that they focus their attention and actions.

Convergence and specialization reshape the landscape

Industry convergence and a focus on specialization are offering customers a wider and deeper array of services from which to choose. A new generation of digitally native media monitoring firms are quick to embrace automation, advanced analytics and other advances, which threatens to uproot traditional media monitoring firms. These boutique agencies can steal share by using insights from the largest data players to produce enhanced services, such as highly tailored, industry-specific marketing campaigns. These upstarts boast the latest technologies and flexible service models to sway customers with interactive reports, dazzling data visualizations, and specialized industry focuses. Moreover, as data itself becomes more commoditized, many information service providers are now discounting their core content services and partnering with other firms to co-create new products and strengthen their consulting services, encroaching on the traditional media monitor’s territory. This raises the need for media monitoring firms to redefine their own relationships with suppliers, strategic partners and customers.


  • Forge new industry relationships and identify partners that can help devise new offerings, address longer term projects, and better differentiate core services. For example, by partnering with a financial analysis firm, an organization can offer predictive and situational economic assessments. Form alliances to open new customer segments, though ensure that these relationships don’t undermine the business’s core value and intellectual property (IP). To guard against these risks, carefully select partners based on prior relationship experiences, and the partner’s values and culture.
  • Ensure that business and operating models are flexible and responsive enough to accommodate disruptive change, such as a move to services rather than products.
  • Engage with public- and private-sector institutions to conduct research and tap new resources that could lead to new solutions. Consider tapping into grants and other private capital to help fund innovations, address regulatory shifts and accelerate pilots.
  • Focus on the user experience. Design commercial and subscription models that offer more personalized, efficient and omnichannel distribution, such as providing mobile, real-time access to services and reports.

Changing customer demands and media consumption patterns

In media monitoring, moments matter. To meet the rising customer demands for immediacy, many traditional providers are struggling to offer more real-time services with insights drawn from a widening range of sources. Customers also desire anywhere-anytime access to reports, whether through system feeds or via direct interactions with experts. Providers must also account for local market needs and how content is consumed across geographies, as customers and monitoring requests become more globally dispersed.

With the rise of streamed content, accuracy amid the volume has become a new battlefront. Internet-streamed television, video-on-demand, and over-the-top media services are among the many new channels that add complexity and new dimensions to audience segmentation and analysis, as customers seek to measure for demographic and emotive patterns.


  • Redesign the reporting and end-user experience. Offer hyper-interactive reports with custom-analysis capabilities, as these may soon become industry table stakes. Modernize user interfaces to make them more responsive and intuitive.
  • Use customer journey analytics to monitor the real-time impact of changes to the user experience across all touchpoints with your products, services and business.
  • Measure media consumption based on demographics using advanced analytics to recognize behavior changes quickly. Devise new ways to demonstrate the strategic value that the services provide.
  • Define and internally articulate a coherent and unified digital strategy that incorporates measures, interventions and technologies aimed to increase efficiency and return-on-insight while making outputs more meaningful.

Decisions become more data-driven

As data flows in through the proverbial fire hose, any lacking context can create confusion and confound data-driven decision-making. Presented data must be actionable and meaningful. Many industry players are now using automated analytics tools to simplify and speed the collection and interpretation process. These tools and their rich algorithms can uncover important nuanced insight that can enhance competitive differentiation. As customers’ strategic decisions increasingly rely on data and predictive analytics, organizations must establish proper governance to ensure that the data they share grows in value and richness.


  • Adopt an integrated data strategy that includes measures for data science and technology such as the introduction of integrated platforms, methods and systems that extract knowledge and insights from structured and unstructured data.
  • Use data science to develop new products and services, and explore new ways to process and enhance ever-larger data sets faster. Implement a data governance framework that clearly defines and communicates roles and responsibilities.
  • Explore implementing a big-data platform that incorporates AI, automation, advanced analytics, data visualization, neuroscience tools and connected-device technologies.
  • Integrate a range of data sources and sets within the organization and partner network to optimize daily operations and to support R&D for new products and services.

Media monitoring and research organizations will likely become more obsessed with customer needs as they shift from mere information gathering and analysis to enhance their data validation and presentation capabilities. They’ll not only increase efficiency, reduce errors and lower costs, but will also exercise new innovation capabilities to create new products and services that will anticipate and keep pace with evolving customer demands. As they partner with upstarts and technology firms, their ecosystem will expand. Sustained success will only come to those organizations with leadership that explores and understands the most critical market forces and internal needs, and inspires workers with new skills.

To learn more, visit our Consulting Practice page or contact us.

This article was written by Dr. Marcin Remarczyk, Director, Cognizant Consulting.