Results of New Market Survey: News Monitoring Providers Fail to Meet Expectations; PR Professionals Slow to Adapt to Changes in Media

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Results of 2004 Market Survey of Media Monitoring by companies, government agencies, and not-for profit organizations produced many insights and surprises. Customers are not very satisfied with media monitoring services; paper-based press clipping services continue to have a dominant market share, even though most customers view them less favorably than electronic and on-line news monitoring services; more than 40% of customers expect to change media monitoring services in the coming year.

Fewer than 20% of public relations professionals are very satisfied with their news monitoring services. Over 40% of PR professionals expect to change media monitoring suppliers in the coming year. PR professionals are least satisfied with paper-based press clipping services and in-house news monitoring by staff, but spend the bulk of their media monitoring budgets on those very services. PR professionals continue to focus on newspaper articles even though consumers have switched their attention to cable TV and the Internet for news.

Those are among the many surprising findings of the 2004 Worldwide Market Survey of Media Monitoring, an online survey of public relations and marketing professionals conducted by Slipstream Group, LLC. (http://www.slipstreamgroup.com), an independent market research company. The survey was sponsored by CyberAlert, Inc., (http://www.cyberalert.com) a worldwide media monitoring company.

More than 1,400 public relations and marketing professionals from throughout the world completed the online survey between July 23 and August 27, 2004. It was the first ever international survey on media monitoring. The survey has a margin of sampling error of 2.6 percentage points.

Traditional News Monitoring Services Retain Market Share

The survey results show that a large majority of PR professionals continue to use traditional services like paper-based press clipping services and media monitoring by in-house staff to monitor news about their companies, products and issues – but that those types of services do not meet their needs or expectations.

Nearly seven in ten (69%) PR and marketing professionals continue to purchase paper-based press clipping services and more than 25% use those paper-based services as their primary method of news monitoring. Similarly, more than 65% of organizations employ in-house staff for monitoring and 22% rely on staff as their primary news checking method, the survey found.

The old-fashioned press clipping services that focus on print publications continue to hold market share in spite of substantial recent changes in media channels, news distribution, consumer news gathering behavior, and news monitoring methods.

The survey results show that only 16% of PR professionals are very satisfied with their paper-based press clipping service and that nearly 47% of those PR professionals who are not very satisfied plan to change services in the coming year.

“While paper-based services and in-house monitoring by staff still dominate the market, that probably won’t last for much longer,” said John Leggett, principal of Slipstream Group and the lead researcher on the study. “The survey results suggest that organizations are in the process of transitioning toward digital media monitoring services. In addition, the survey results clearly show that organizations using technology-based media monitoring services as their primary service are more satisfied with the services than those using traditional paper-based press clipping services as their primary service. The results also show that organizations using in-house news monitoring can greatly improve their news clipping levels of satisfaction by outsourcing to technology-based media monitoring services,” he stated.

Adoption of New Media Monitoring Services

Electronic services such as Lexis-Nexis are now used by over 50% of businesses; online media monitoring services such as CyberAlert are currently used by 42%. In a clear indication of a shift to digital news monitoring services, more than 30% of organizations now utilize an electronic or online service as their primary news monitoring source.

The typical buyer of media monitoring services, however, uses between three and four different monitoring methodologies including manual monitoring by staff (in-house), paper-based press clipping (Burrelle’s/Luce, Bacon’s, Bowdens), electronic services (Lexis-Nexis, Factiva), online services (CyberAlert, eWatch), broadcast monitors (VMS, Multivision), Internet search engines (Google News, Yahoo News), and desktop software (Copernic). Only one in ten PR and marketing professionals uses a single news monitoring source. The almost universal use of multiple providers indicates that business professionals in PR and marketing lack confidence in any single source to meet all their news monitoring needs and expectations. The results also suggest that many users are conducting pilot programs of the newer digital technologies.

Expectations vs. Purchases

In one surprising result, the survey identified significant disparities between the expectations of PR and marketing professionals and their choice of primary media monitoring service.

In ranking the importance of various features of news monitoring services, PR professionals ranked five core attributes as very important: number of news sources monitored (76%), cost/value proposition (71%), timeliness of clip delivery (70%), clip accuracy – that is, low percentage of missed clips (69%), and number of newspapers monitored (68%).

Yet, as shown in the large market share of paper-based services, buyers of media monitoring services continue to spend the lion’s share of their media monitoring budgets on services that are largely deficient in most of those attributes that PR and marketing professionals consider most important.

Media Monitoring Expenditures

The median budget for outsourced news monitoring is $808 per month or just under $10,000 per year. One quarter (26%) of all respondents indicated their organization spends more than $1,000 per month on outsourced services. About 10% incur no out-of-pocket expenditures for media monitoring, relying exclusively on in-house monitoring.

Organizations with larger budgets receiving more clips per day are more likely to have adopted one or more of the digital monitoring services. Moreover, digital services appear to deliver more clips per day than paper-based services.

“The adopters of digital news monitoring services seem to be organizations that put a high value on the benefits of more comprehensive media coverage, fewer missed clips and faster clip delivery times,” said Leggett. “Because larger companies often generate a high volume of clips per day, they may be switching to digital media based on cost/value proposition, since many of the digital media monitoring services have fixed monthly subscription fees with no per clip charges.”

Despite a variety of relatively inexpensive news monitoring services available, over 20% of business organizations rely on in-house staff who read publications and use free Internet search engines as their primary provider. The time spent and salary/benefit costs of such in-house media monitoring by staff are largely hidden and unmeasured.

Clip Delivery

In assessing timeliness of clip delivery, the majority of PR and marketing professionals expect their clips from all media by the next morning -- a difficult task for paper-based media monitoring services and standard practice for digital services.

E-mail is the preferred clip delivery method with a plurality (43%) of respondents expressing preference for e-mail delivery and 12% preferring delivery through Web site access. The preference for digital clip delivery is another indication of the shift toward digital media monitoring services.

Another of the survey’s surprising findings involves how frequently or infrequently PR professionals review their clips. Although more than half (55%) of all respondents check news clips at least once per day, many organizations do not appear to be checking news clips frequently enough. The survey results show that 29% of users check news clips once per week or less.

Levels of Satisfaction

While four out of five respondents (83%) say they are “satisfied” with their media monitoring services, only 19% say they are “very satisfied” and an additional 64% say they are “somewhat satisfied”.

This apparent satisfaction, however, does not translate into loyalty. One clue to underlying dissatisfaction is the finding that more than 40% of those who are “somewhat satisfied” expect to make some change in their media monitoring services during the coming year. Of the 17% who express dissatisfaction with services, more than 71% expect to change their media monitoring service in the coming year.

Although in-house monitoring and paper-based clipping services are the most widely used services, these services do not generate the highest levels of satisfaction.

Professionals who use technology-based electronic or online news monitoring services are more likely (24%) to be very satisfied than those using in-house monitoring by staff (18%), paper-based clipping (16%), or Internet search engines (13%).

Organizations with budgets of $3,000 per month or more are no more satisfied with their services than those who spend between $200 and $1,000 per month.

For those organizations that rely on in-house staff for news clipping, the survey suggests that expenditure of as little as $200 per month on outsourced services could substantially increase performance and satisfaction levels of this group.

Aggregated responses from international markets were essentially the same as U.S. results, with one exception: after receiving their clips, European PR practitioners seem to be make substantially greater use of advanced media measurement methodologies.

Implications of Survey Results

The continued prevalence of paper-based clipping may be related to the importance that businesses, particularly public relations professionals, place on monitoring daily newspapers and trade journals.

The results of other recent surveys, however, reveal that electronic media such as TV, radio and Web sites have supplanted print media as the primary source of news for large segments of the population including young adults and business executives. New Internet-based media such as discussion groups, message boards, forums, and Web logs (blogs) have emerged as strong influencers of corporate and brand reputation, but are ignored by many PR professionals.

The persistent supremacy of paper-based clipping services suggests that many organizations and their PR professionals are not altering their media monitoring methods to adapt to recent changes in media channels and the new realities of digital news dissemination. Many news outlets on the Internet, for instance, have far more readers than most daily newspapers.

With both publishing and broadcasting media going through significant changes, businesses need to tailor their media monitoring sources to reflect those changes in news distribution. Instead of concentrating their media monitoring budget on traditional newspapers and magazines that are losing readership, businesses could achieve significant benefits by expanding their monitoring to those media that have exhibited increased influence, especially cable TV news and news sites on the Internet.

Corporations, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations can also benefit by monitoring consumer-generated media – Web sites that enable consumers to express their opinions about companies and products.

While the survey results clearly indicate that service providers need to do a better job in terms of coverage of news sources, speed of clip delivery and reduced percentage of missed or nuisance clips, the findings also suggest that buyers of news monitoring services need to sharpen their approach in selecting media monitoring providers more appropriate to their business needs in today’s changing media environment. Public relations and marketing professionals who are responsible for reviewing news articles also need to stay more on top of the clips they receive, reviewing them in a more timely fashion and utilizing more advanced media measurement strategies to assess impact of news coverage.

“In reviewing the survey results, the emphasis on monitoring print media and the time lags in reviewing clips are both causes for concern,” stated William J. Comcowich, President and CEO of CyberAlert, Inc. and a former head of public relations at major healthcare institutions. “Today, electronic media have an outsized impact on consumer opinion and corporate reputation. Moreover, most news and corporate bashing hits the Internet long before it appears in print media. By aiming the media monitoring sights more on electronic media, including the Internet, and by monitoring those media multiple times during the day, businesses and their PR agencies can be more effective in measuring and managing news and/or threats to their companies and brands,” he contended.

“By expanding their use of digital media monitoring,” Leggett added, “many companies and other organizations could gain substantial benefits including more comprehensive coverage, more timely clip delivery and better cost/value proposition—precisely the features PR practitioners value most. To protect corporate and brand reputation, businesses need to monitor far more sources in many more news sources much more aggressively and in a more timely way going forward.

“At the same time, the new digital services must improve their product offerings to meet the expectations of the PR community and to build confidence among PR professionals. Once this occurs, news monitoring will advance into a new era with substantive benefits for both media monitoring companies and their corporate, government, and agency clients,” Leggett concluded.

Survey Reports Available

An Executive Summary of the “2004 Worldwide Media Monitoring Survey” is available free of charge at http://www.cyberalert.com/execsummary.html.

The complete report with 47 pages and 34 charts of detailed data is available now for immediate download at http://www.cyberalert.com and is priced at $99.95.

Upon request, Slipstream Group will develop customized reports based on the data.

Slipstream Group is currently conducting a follow-on survey, the 2004 Worldwide Survey of Media Measurement, Evaluation and Analysis. The survey is available at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=94457567901.

About CyberAlert

Founded in 1999, CyberAlert, Inc. is a worldwide press clipping, media monitoring and Web clipping service that monitors over 20,000+ online news sources each day in 17 languages. CyberAlert also monitors Web message boards, UseNet news groups and Web logs (blogs) for consumer insight about companies, products, key issues and trends. Clients specify their key words and CyberAlert delivers via e-mail alerts (7/365) all the new news clips found since the prior clip delivery. The company is based in Stratford, CT.

About Slipstream Group

Slipstream Group, LLC, based in Dover, NH, provides independent market research, business development, and direct response promotion services to corporations and not-for-profit organizations.

Contacts:

William J. Comcowich

CyberAlert, Inc.

comcowic@cyberalert.com

203-375-7200 X101

Cell: 203-685-7301

John Leggett

Slipstream Group

John.Leggett@slipstreamgroup.com

(603) 502-0555

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