Media Track – the Danish media monitoring company still known by many as Newswatch – is continuing its expansion.
Photos by Disraporn Yatprom
Media Track in Singapore is expanding its services from media monitoring of Danish radio, TV and newspapers to offering the same services to Swedish and Norwegian clients. This expansion has come gradual as a natural consequence of the takeover in 2012 by Retriever of a major stake in NewsWatch, the Danish subsidiary of Media Track. Retriever is the largest media monitoring company in Scandinavia with an especially strong position on the Swedish market.
But Media Track is also moving out of this special Scandinavian media monitoring niche and into another niche in the IT business: Converting print articles to XML files.
“There are about ten companies worldwide offering this as a service, but Media Track decided to do their own conversion when the company was established back in 2009 and we believe we are now so good at it, that we are ready to offer it to other companies as well,” says Steffen Egelund.
“Because we come from the media monitoring business side and not the data side, we are definitely better if the client is another media monitoring company,” he adds.
The conversion is a very complex IT process which can only partially be automated. From all the media monitored, Media Track receives their output in a number of different formats. When talking printed news media, it will typically be in pdf format but sometimes all they have to work with are simple images of newspaper pages. These files must be extracted and broken down into individual news items and translated to a unified xml format.
Moved from Jakarta to Philippines
“In the beginning, we moved this work over to Jakarta, where the skilled manpower is not as expensive as in Singapore, but the almost regular annual flooding of Jakarta disrupted our business so we set up a backup operation in Manila in the Philippines,” Steffen Egelund explains.
“It worked so well that we have now basically closed down the operation in Jakarta and moved all this work to two locations in the Philippines, the one in Manila and a new one in Cebu so we are pretty safe in case of natural disasters. In total, we have 140 full time staff employed in the Philippines and 35 part timers,” he says.
“Apart from the low cost of highly skilled IT staff, there are other benefits to placing this in the Philippines. The proficiency of the English language is high and conditions for IT companies are OK and so are the international data transmission connections. It is also an added benefit for us, that we work in the same time zone,” he adds.
As an entrepreneur, Steffen Egelund is rather fearless. In 2005 he moved to Singapore and started a Danish PR company there called Corporate Spin together with two other friends. Soon they had offices in KL, Singapore and Shanghai.
NewsWatch in Singapore was set up in January 2009 with the idea to deliver a premium service in media surveillance that the Danish market leader InfoMedia was too complacent to develop.
“When I worked for the Danish Conservative Party years ago, I was not satisfied with the existing media surveillance in Denmark. The articles came in a messy state and they came too late in the morning,” he explains.
NewsWatch started offering relevant clips from all newspapers, radio and TV in summary form each day at 6 in the morning Denmark time and it quickly proved attractive to head of Danish media departments in major organisations in Denmark.
Two years ago, Swedish based Retriever bought shares in Media Track’s Danish operation NewsWatch. This way, NewsWatch in Denmark continues to buy its daily news analysis from Media Track in Singapore, but in addition to that, products are also delivered from Media Track to Retriever in Norway and Sweden.”
“Our analysts are working here in Singapore out of this office and we have also analysts placed in some other cities in South East Asia,” Steffen Egelund explains.
“Our premium account clients are for instance large corporate clients like Carlsberg and DA – Danish Employers Federation and the five administrative regions in Denmark and other government clients.”
“The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also one of our clients,” Steffen adds.
“That way when the Danish Embassy here in Singapore or elsewhere in Asia is alerted to some news in the Danish press, it actually comes from us here in Singapore doing first the conversion, then the analysis and finally the delivery of the news to the Ministry in Copenhagen – from where they then alert local embassies in case the news affects them as well.”
The product goes beyond simple media monitoring of a brand to include the public discussion.
“Take for instance the Minister of Employment. She needs to know what people talk about related to the ministry and the areas handled by the ministry or even other subjects what could possible involve her ministry. That is a rather complex task to analyze and cannot be handle by a computer program. That is why we we are constantly on the lookout for clever people who can analyze the data we extract from our media monitoring.”
In the example of the minister, she monitors our service on an iPad from NewsWatch where an app is running that brings her not just the raw text but also a picture of the clipping crisp and clear and then most importantly the comments of the analyst.
“Being part of Retriever, we now offer our premium service in Norway and Sweden too, but the markets there are not as mature as in Denmark and most clients are still prepared to settle with the basic monitoring service. It is also a question of what you are prepared to pay.”