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From the era of journalists to the era of anonymous authors. This is how Internet monitoring has changed

In September, the Google search engine celebrated its 25th anniversary. When users took their first steps online a quarter of a century ago, there was a need to monitor brand mentions online as well. Przemysław Palacz, board member at PSMM Monitoring & More, tells us whether and how media monitoring has changed over the years.

PSMM Monitoring & More introduced monitoring of online sources to its offer in 2000. Initially, this service was ordered by few customers. Usually these were large companies that either realised the huge role of this channel’s influence on brand reputation and the changing media structure, or entered the Polish market from abroad.

Brands began to recognise the growing role of the Internet over time. There were relatively few portals, but the influence of journalists was significant. At the time, monitoring of online mentions was performed mostly manually. The team, which dealt exclusively with the Internet, consisted of a dozen people.

Skills such as meticulousness, data analysis and knowledge of the media market were paramount. Although most of the work was done manually, it was not as time-consuming as it is today. Today, our Internet monitoring team consists of several dozen people, but they are specialists responsible for completely different areas. Their scope is primarily data analytics. Both the scale of demand and the number of sources have changed. The candidate for this position must have excellent analytical skills and be able to find new sources,’ Przemysław Palacz explains.

‘Looking back, one can also see that the role of the Internet increased significantly around 2010 with the emergence of social media. We have moved from an era of online content created by journalists to one created by virtually anonymous individuals. These are of great importance when it comes to building the reputation of brands, causing more and more companies to recognise the need for continuous monitoring of information,’ he adds

At the age of so many sources, bot-created content and user-generated content, it has also become important to properly filter and select information. This is one of the biggest changes, because, as Przemyslaw Palacz points out, although it would seem that a lot of time has passed since the introduction of this service, the Internet still basically operates on similar principles – especially with regard to the news. What is different is its accessibility. It has transformed from being an elite medium to one that is freely accessible and used by almost every social group.

From the perspective of the customer ordering the service of online monitoring, not much has changed. Initially, companies received a list of links, but the service was soon enriched with in-depth data and multimedia. The assumption of PSMM Monitoring & More was that online mentions should be equivalent to those in the press. Over time, more and more companies began to understand the change taking place in the media. Whereas public opinion used to be influenced by a narrow group of journalists, today it is influenced by virtually everyone. Response time is becoming important, as a crisis can be born from even a single opinion and escalate on a huge scale.

This is the key motivation behind the need for companies to monitor online mentions. The Internet has rapidly beaten the press in terms of accessibility. However, it is difficult to predict with a high degree of probability in which direction it will develop in the next few years.

‘The social media might become even more important and the paid content model may gain popularity, especially for those more valuable publications. However, given that the news role of the web has remained essentially the same for more than 20 years, a revolution should not be expected. Real-time monitoring will be of key importance and analytics will help managers make the right decisions quickly,’ Przemysław Palacz sums up.

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