By: Brent Diggins
Media monitoring and media contact database giant Cision will acquire social and digital media listening platform Brandwatch in a $450 million deal expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.
Cision, coming off the acquisition and integration of TrendKite, wasted little time before making this monumental move that will likely have a number of short- and long-term impacts on the industry.
Below are speculative outcomes we may see as the two organizations, each with their own strengths, unite.
Any change must come with the expectation the merger of two large technology companies often takes time to demonstrate their combined power. Through the end of 2021, a few potential changes may come to fruition:
- Improved Data—Typically one of the first outcomes of mergers such as this is an improved data pipeline. We may expect to see a more robust social data set within the Cision platform, perhaps with easy-to-move attributes from Brandwatch, such as its AI-driven text analytics capability that surfaces insights like emotion or key phrases and keywords.
- Improved Insights Built Into Existing Features—With an increased data pipeline, we may expect to see an immediate bolster in insights already presented in the platform. For example, in Cision’s key message widget, we may see options for key messages not only in news media, but broken down by Brandwatch’s data sets, such as Twitter, Forums, and Reviews.
- Improved UX—Cision took a big leap forward in its UX with its takeaways from the Trendkite acquisition. It moved quickly to adopt those as the new Cision Communications Cloud, which has improved ease of use for the end user. We may see Brandwatch attributes brought into this format, which would be an upgrade over the current Brandwatch UX.
The benefits of this merger won’t be fully realized until the future, as data scientists, engineers and product specialists from both organizations maximize the potential of both powerful data engines.
- A True Strategic Analytics Platform: The ultimate outcome will likely be the most powerful communications and social and digital tool the industry has seen – one that combines multiple channels to provide a holistic real-time look at an organization and its audience, potential audience, competitors and industry. The infrastructure, technology and data is in place for them to achieve this, but piecing it together so it is intuitive and impactful will be the ultimate challenge.
- AI-Driven Communications Insights: Brandwatch brings Cision an advanced AI capability that may be applied to the earned media space. Using AI to surface themes, cursory conversations, whitespace, and other insights that have largely been stronger in the digital space would be a welcome boon for communications professionals who want both data and insights. Most communications platforms today either provide a type of AI-driven insight or act as a data source. Few, if any do both well.
- Improved Customer Service for Brandwatch: Another takeaway from the TrendKite acquisition could be an improved customer service module for Brandwatch, which is something generally behind compared with the rest of the industry.
Over the coming months, we should expect to see many questions resolved or indications they are on the path to being resolved.
1. Will there be two stand alone platforms or will Cision and Brandwatch be combined?
2. How will the merger impact price?
- The most common question is whether these two platforms will remain stand-alone or will and how much will they be combined. In the short term and medium term (three to 18 months), we will likely see a combined branding effort. But speculatively, the platforms will likely merge into one “ultimate” platform. However, that said, we wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see a hybrid model given the brand equity Brandwatch has in the social and digital space.
3. What/who is next for Cision?
- Pricing will be a common and key question as the merger moves forward, particularly for those who currently deploy both programs. This one should be monitored closely – there will be likely little clarity or indication in the short term. You should expect to ride out this contract, and perhaps another, as two separate entities.
- Brandwatch is another domino knocked down in the growing Cision empire. Emerging technologies continue to blossom, and it will be interesting to see what Cision eyes next as it continues to build its powerhouse – predictive modeling, cost/spend outcomes, paid integrations and advanced text analytics (particularly given the Netbase/Quid merger) could all be on the horizon.
While there are a lot of unknowns and questions in the early stages, Cision’s acquisition of Brandwatch is a hallmark moment in the martech landscape. It will undoubtedly benefit the entire communications, social and digital marketing functions if the platforms and capabilities merge well to be intuitive for the end user.
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Brent Diggins is the managing director of measurement + analytics at Allison+Partners.