What exactly is media analysis?

Media analysis is the process of critically examining large amounts of data generated by various media channels and identifying patterns within that data. It is based on information gathered in the media landscape, which consists of print, broadcast, online as well as social media platforms.

Media analysis looks at past media coverage of certain issues, businesses or individuals. It assesses how the issue or organisation has been portrayed. The aim is to gain insights into business performance, consumers, competitors and market sectors.

Correctly executed media analysis can provide you with an objective and accurate representation of information that gives you insight into the who, what, when and where of a particular topic. Having all the information allows you to make informed decisions about your communications strategy. For example, the analysis could be used to determine how to respond to certain issues or how to adapt your strategy based on what your competitors are doing or saying.

What types of media analysis are there?

There are two methods of media analysis: qualitative and quantitative.

Quantitative analysis is based on statistics and gives you valuable data on your media messages as well as your competitors.

Qualitative analysis draws on narratives and gives you in-depth insights into the way your brand is perceived in the media.

1. Quantitative analysis

Quantitative analysis involves the collection of media ‘mentions’ (a process known as media monitoring), from which statistical values are obtained. These statistics can include:
  • Clip count: The total number of mentions for an entity or topic;
  • Circulation: The number of copies distributed for each publication;
  • Share of voice: How often an entity or topic is mentioned relative to other brands or issues; among others.
This type of analysis is popular as statistics are relatively easy to obtain, quick to compare and they show figures for key performance metrics.

Favourability or auto-sentiment can rate your media mentions as positive, negative or neutral. Seeing these ratings in statistical form allows you to quickly compare whether your media sentiment has improved or declined.

However, quantitative analysis also comes with some drawbacks. Statistics on their own cannot give you the ‘full picture’ as numbers and graphs don’t provide you with context.

By looking at the statistics you won’t be able to see impact that the coverage has had on your audience because there is not always a clear link between the data and the audience's impression.

Having your brand mentioned 1 000 times per week might mean your messages are gaining media traction but you won’t necessarily know how those messages are being portrayed, or whether those messages are actually influencing the public.

2. Qualitative analysis

Qualitative analysis involves the relationship between content and its audience. It gives you in-depth insights into the way your brand is being perceived in the media.

Because qualitative analysis involves the interpretation of the text, it pays special attention to target audiences, media sources and other contextual factors. This helps to identify prominent media trends while giving meaning to mentions, as well as providing a more insightful idea of social impact.

Through qualitative analysis, you can determine the value of different mentions by identifying whether they appeared in in-depth feature articles or if they were brief mentions at the end of an article or broadcast.

So, which type of analysis is better — statistics or stories? The answer will depend on your specific needs.

Both approaches bring their own strengths and weaknesses, but the most consolidated approach is a combination of both. Without one, some aspect of the ‘big picture’ will be missing. Together, they offer a more complete image of what you are looking for in your media data.

Focal Points’ offers a research section on its website, where it shares insights and in-depth information regarding media analysis. You can find out more by visiting www.focalpoints.co.za.