In the past few years, Publicis, one of the largest communications groups in the world, has made efforts to transition from traditional PR and advertising services to a company on which clients can rely for its entire marketing transformation. In 2015, the firm acquired the big digital technology consultancy Sapient, and an increased focus on automation and analytics led to the purchase of Epsilon in 2019.
It turns out that since 2018, a team of 20 people in Bulgaria has also played an important role for Publicis Groupe when it comes to getting the most of marketing big data.
“In Sofia, we are bringing the essence, the context, and the qualitative element to the data. Despite all the recent advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP), human communication, especially online and on social media is a difficult nut to crack. Recently, we did a research for P&G, a client of Publicis in the US – all the discussions online are super valuable for them to start product innovation, to manage corporate reputation, and to identify potential crisis points,” shares Nico-Alexander Jahn, executive vice-president for Social Intelligence & Digital Platforms at Publicis Groupe.
Last year, the local team got together with their colleagues in more mature markets like Western Europe and the US and decided to build in-house tools for niches that are not covered that well by existing products. Besides content intelligence and creation, other strategically important verticals for Publicis have become the optimization of organic search results as well as trend identification.
Products for better services
Currently, the Bulgarian social intelligence and digital platforms division is working on several projects, with one of them being a tool that combines client-owned media with Publicis’ social listening data. The product, called Conversability, enables the entire conversation ecosystem on certain topics to be mapped. Based on this insight, the people working at some of the Publicis agencies around the world can come up with creative ideas for content creation, relevant things that the customer’s brand can contribute to the whole conversation, and monitor communication campaigns in almost real-time
“While the tool is built by the team in London, the social intelligence center in Sofia acts as a subject matter expert, like a product owner, and of course we are also bringing in the data. We do this on a global level, across languages and markets, and really get an idea of the global conversation on a given topic. For example, with beer brands we are looking around the discussions of water resources and sustainability and who’s owning them,” explains Jahn.
The road ahead
There are different development paths for the Bulgarian social intelligence center moving forward – growing the team is on the agenda for the next 18 months, with the exact scale to be decided in the next few months.
“As a communication industry, we have to be a little bit more cautious about not being too robotic. We are talking about automation and personalization at scale. Which is needed but in the end communications are a people thing. It’s about trust, it’s about emotions. We should merge the quantitative data with the human aspect and human stories. As an advertising industry it will be very difficult to beat companies like Facebook and Google in terms of automation but we can do something when it comes to creativity, we can do something about bringing the right communication to people,” says Jahn.