What the Cision-Trendkite Merger Means for the Communications Industry



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Last week, Cision announced that it was acquiring media monitoring company Trendkite. As the CEO of a leading communications technology company, I have been asked by many of our customers what this means for the industry.

Generally, it is exciting to see continued investment in tools for the PR industry. We have already witnessed a steady increase in the marketing teams’ budgets for technology, automation and measurement over the past fifteen years. This has led to a data revolution, with marketing moving away from being a perceived cost center, to being recognized as a true driver of revenue.

It is no surprise that marketing technology has now reached the pinnacle as the #1 largest marketing expenditure, according to the Gartner 2018-2019 CMO Spend Report.

We believe that communications is actually one of the most effective forms of marketing, and most pros will agree that PR “works.” The problem, historically, has been that you weren’t able prove it. The same types of measurement and tracking methodologies which have propelled marketing into a “growth” channel were not available to the communications teams.

As with all such transformations there is a “chicken and the egg” phenomenon. The communications teams do not have access to the same sized budgets as their marketing counterparts because they aren’t yet proving their direct impact to the company bottom line, in terms of sales leads and revenue or even clearly showing how they build brand and influence corporate reputation. People want to invest in what works, but they can only know if something is working if they measure it. But, in order to measure the actual ROI of a PR campaign you need a reliable technology, which requires investment. So which comes first?

Fortunately, there is a cohort of forward-thinking companies who have made this investment on conviction and, in some cases, the data they are seeing from their early adopter peers. These teams already know that well executed communications programs drive impact across the consumer journey, both elevating the brand, as well as delivering sales. They know this intuitively, and somewhat anecdotally, and now they want the hard-data to quantify it.

These thought-leaders have adopted platforms like ours to standardize their PR measurement around ROI metrics. They are paving a path for the entire industry to elevate itself through data and technology.

As more and more CMO’s and Chief Communications Officers are waking up to the new possibilities driven by data science, big data, and AI, and are freeing up funds to make those investments, growth is slowing in the realm of traditional media measurement. Consolidation is a natural consequence. Both Cision and Trendkite had already been following the same playbook in search of growth and recently had each purchased social media monitoring companies which was a related space that was saturated with vendors that were mostly trading customers. This rationalization and the inevitable ensuing cost cutting that goes on is ultimately healthy for investors, and, perhaps, the industry.

Last week’s acquisition announcement represents a consolidation around the first step of the communications measurement maturity path – media monitoring. Both companies have solutions for counting press clips and social media mentions, the traditional basics of PR measurement.

Now, the industry is headed upwards on the maturity path, towards data science and metrics that demonstrate impact on business outcomes. Empowered comms leaders are moving into a position to speak to website traffic generation, new customer demand, sales, and revenue. The concept of marketing attribution is hardly new. But we invented PR Attribution™ to enable the communications teams to finally get the credit that is due.

This is just the beginning. 2019 will be a year of continued growth and investment in innovative tools and technologies to enable the modern-day communicator. We are excited to be at the center of such an important movement, and are proud to be building the foundation of the future communications technology stack.

-Dan Beltramo, CEO, Onclusive