Artificial intelligence (AI) can enable computers to understand the meaning of language and, therefore, also the emotions, or sentiment, expressed in words and sentences. Using two specific components of AI, media analysis company Focal Points has boosted its sentiment analysis capabilities to produce more comprehensive media intelligence reports that drill deeper into brand perception and reputation.

Anja van Schalkwyk, senior strategic analyst at Focal Points, spoke to media update about sentiment analysis and the company’s use of AI technology. She shares how advances in this technological field are enabling her team to produce brand performance, media coverage, and competitor benchmarking reports with greater depth.



1. Why is it important for brands to know the sentiment of the media coverage they receive?

Sentiment analysis shows brands and businesses the percentage of positive and negative media coverage. It identifies keywords within a media clipping and classifies them as positive, negative, or neutral. It’s a way for companies to ensure they stay in the loop with what is being said about their business, and it’s a particularly useful tool for tracking campaigns and events.

Marketing managers often measure campaigns, product launches, or events based on the number of consumers reached or social media metrics. This may leave them unaware of vital issues consumers talk about on media channels – especially social platforms. Instead, sentiment analysis identifies how marketing efforts are received by the people who matter most: the consumers.

"Sentiment analysis identifies how marketing efforts are received by the people who matter most: the consumers."
Sentiment is a useful metric for measuring your brand’s performance month to month. You can set goals using sentiment. For example, your brand could aim for 20% positive media coverage and less than 5% negative coverage. Sentiment analysis can then be used to track your brand’s progress towards these goals.

2. We hear Focal Points is expanding its service with the help of AI technology. How is AI enabling your team to deliver smarter insights?

Our sentiment analysis is powered by two components of AI: natural language processing and machine learning. This combination allows the engine we use to rapidly analyse the sentiment of media clips with near-100% accuracy. This automatic analysis process has freed up time for our team to mine deeper insights through qualitative analysis.

Machine learning also allows the AI engine to discover emerging trends, topics, and issues within media coverage. The engine essentially picks up keywords that are being repeated with increased frequency in media clips and then extracts these ‘entities’. We include these keywords, and an analysis of the issues behind them, in our in-depth reports to give clients a comprehensive overview of their media coverage.

3. The AI-powered engine you’re using sounds like an industry game changer. How do you think it will transform the data intelligence sector and, specifically, the media analysis sector?

Sentiment analysis can only be done instantaneously through the use of AI. Traditional methods of analysing sentiment typically take some time to complete, especially as the number of posts to be processed grows into the hundreds and thousands.

The introduction of NLP into our process has changed the way we do things. Because the engine does sentiment analysis and entity extraction automatically, we now have the capacity to create in-depth reports that investigate every aspect of our clients’ media coverage meticulously.

"The introduction of NLP into our process has changed the way we do things."
While these components of AI automate many manual activities, the role of the human in the media analysis process is absolutely vital. Humans help to train the machine, verifying results during the training phase, and apply their knowledge to the analysis to produce relevant and valuable intelligence.

This system is a collaboration between the creative power of the human mind and the advanced processing capabilities of AI. The combination of AI and brain power has the potential to change how the industry obtains accurate data intelligence and delivers that information to brands and companies who need to constantly stay on top of what that data reveals about their business.

Contact Focal Points on +27 11 288 6692 or info@focalpoints.co.za to unlock intelligence from the media coverage your company receives.

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