Advancing communications measurement and evaluation

Forging a Future in the Uncertain World of Media Intelligence


CARMA Founder and CEO Mazen Nahawi provides a glimpse into his strategy to navigate the measurement industry’s exciting future. (The Measurement Standard is sponsored by CARMA.)

Another year has gone by, and now is the season in which the measurement community reflects on its progress and its future. How are we to manage the high-speed evolution of communications, content, and analysis? What changes lie ahead for our industry in these uncertain times? Here is how I see our industry’s future, and how CARMA plans to prosper in it.

First, a familiar trend of deep foreboding dominates the more traditional players, whose antiquated monitoring services and shallow approach to analysis continue to sink their offerings lower on the value chain. This is as opposed to the global, digital-first players, who see a thriving future. This trend will continue going into 2017.

More importantly, I see a radical split in the “Optimists Camp,” the global, digital-first players who are redefining the media intelligence business, CARMA being among them. During the next 18 months we will reach a tipping point at which the media intelligence industry will see new leadership take control of the best and most successful companies, while many familiar names that have dominated the business for years will say their goodbyes.

Who will this leadership be and where will they come from?

  • Cision is investing in leadership from big-tech, bringing in an experienced leadership team from Oracle.
  • Several European companies are bringing in big names from the market research industry.
  • iSentia, the Asia-Pac leader, now has a CIO with a business intelligence background and a newly-appointed CMO who comes from the content marketing space.

The companies that will win this race for leadership aren’t on the hunt for experts in scanning, OCR, and digitization—we are way beyond that. They are looking for a world-class competitive edge to power successful business models. What will these models look like?

Two Directions for Media Intelligence Companies

I see most (see below) successful media intelligence companies moving in two different directions:


The first direction is what I call the “SaaS-only approach.” These are media intelligence companies intent on becoming technology businesses, believing that the value of monitoring and analysis can be fully, or mostly, automated. Their customers will be thousands of regularly subscribing clients who will faithfully log in at affordable but high-margin subscriptions rates to build great businesses.

You can count Brandwatch, Sysomos, Talkwalker, Dow Jones’ Factiva, and others to be in this camp. Moving forward you will certainly see Adobe, Oracle, and other big-tech companies—who are now dead-serious about marketing clouds and media intelligence—join the party and compete successfully in this space.


The second direction is toward custom consulting, or what I call the “McKinsey Approach.” These are media intelligence companies that will use technology to power the integration of all content in a world where all marketing communications disciplines merge. The goal here is to deliver insights that are technology-powered, but customized to provide serious insights to communicators, the C-level, and all elements of the client enterprise.

You can count PRIME Research, UNICEPTA, Media Tenor, and others to be in this camp.

So Which Model Will Succeed?

Both will succeed, because there is a massive and growing need for the media intelligence industry to make sense out of the enormous amount of content that will be distributed and captured. For some that means a low-cost SaaS solution, for others it means a technology-powered custom insights solution.

Is There a Third Way?

We at CARMA think so. In a world where there have been so many false binary choices, we feel strongly that exploring alternatives is important. Clients, regardless of how junior or senior their teams are, do need a single partner who can provide an end-to-end solution for all their media intelligence needs. We at CARMA plan to forge a middle path, built on the best of both technology and human insight.

This will not be easy. We can’t think of many players that have successfully assembled both SaaS solutions and consulting solutions side-by-side. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Brands still mean a lot to clients. It’s difficult to claim you are a great software automation platform, and then try to convince your client that you are also a great consultant. Trying to play both risks diluting both propositions.
  1. Leadership and teams need to be focused. Trying to do both means you will need different technology, data, and sales teams trying to work side-by-side. That’s difficult and expensive.
  1. There are different clients for each model. The SaaS plays generally cater to junior and mid-level execs who have time to play around with dashboards and monitoring apps. The “McKinsey Model” client is very different. They are more senior, and would rather receive a single paragraph of impactful insights than go through lists of clips and multitudes of charts. They increasingly want this insight to be global and C-level grade. And they are willing to pay top dollar for it.

CARMA plans on overcoming these challenges in two vital ways. First, by keeping the client in charge. By letting our clients tell us what they want we can engineer our tech and our teams to meet all their requirements. Secondly, we’ve adopted specialized leadership and team structures which allow us to be flexible and responsive, yet with emphasis on strategy and cutting-edge technology.

So, as we head into 2017, our world expects serious upheaval across business, politics, and life in general. The media intelligence industry will not be immune to this, as new technology and fresh thinking tears away the old business models and replaces them with new ones.

Here at CARMA it’s exciting to see the influx of new leadership, and to observe the evolution of media intelligence into different practice areas. We plan to win the day for our clients and our company by forging our own path, balancing the best of technology with the ingenuity of the human mind and spirit.


Mazen Nahawi

Mazen Nahawi

Mazen Nahawi is Founder and Chief Executive Officer at CARMA.
Mazen Nahawi
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