“Understanding social sentiment has never been more critical”: Meltwater’s Ross Candido on the power of data during challenging economic times

Meltwater - Ross Candido

“Tracking one billion pieces of content daily would have been inconceivable ten years ago”

Brands face greater scrutiny from consumers to deliver more effective services and bargains as economic pressures continue, according to Meltwater’s Ross Candido.

Candido, the VP of ANZ and SEA at Meltwater, told Mediaweek, that the rising cost of living has heightened community expectations and placed greater pressure on brands to tailor marketing and sales strategies to address changing consumer behaviours.

Brands need to understand and respond to growing sensitivity towards prices and the subsequent uptick in bargain hunting and consumer preferences for value-based purchasing, discounts or sale events.

“Understanding social sentiment has never been more critical. During challenging economic times, communities want to be assured that they are heard, and initiatives are being created to alleviate the concerns and difficulties they are facing.

“Trust indicators are under scrutiny, and the Australian population’s tolerance is certainly being tested, although events such as the Matildas’ success story have certainly provided a more than welcome break, giving the country’s sentiment a boost,” he said.

Candido said that brands should ensure their messaging reflects social sentiment during this time. “Using these insights is a valuable opportunity to engage with consumers effectively in this environment,” he added.

The data explosion

Candido has worked at the online media monitoring company for over 15 years and believes the category has changed rapidly thanks to the growth and volume of media data and AI.

“Tracking one billion pieces of content daily would have been inconceivable ten years ago. We can only expect it to grow across more channels. Therefore, addressing the complexity of this unstructured data from various sources is both an opportunity and a challenge.

“For those who can strategically understand and uncover key insights that are of value to them in as close to real-time as possible, it provides a competitive edge,” he said.

Candido noted that the development and integration of AI are critical as organisations try to make sense of millions of data points across multiple channels.

“Take the example of the Canadian Bushfires. At its height, Meltwater was tracking and summarising 1.5 million mentions just on this topic.

“Having access to AI-enabled summaries of this data through Meltwater provided Rescue Services and Government Agencies with a clear overview of the key conversation drivers across various social conversations and mainstream media reports,” he added.

Candido noted that with AI, the Canadian authorities could easily see what was driving positive outcomes and then amplify it via their own social channels to increase support. They were also able to identify the negative drivers that needed to be addressed with the most urgency.

“Prior to AI, analysing and interpreting that volume of data would have taken large analyst teams weeks to process, at which point the insights gleaned would be too stale to action,” he said.


The growing climate change and ESG conversation

Of the wide range of conversations and issues across the industry, Candido said climate change and ESG is evolving rapidly as consumers show greater interests, which has significant implications on Australian businesses.

“We have tracked over 100 million unique references to ESG topics in just the last six months,” he revealed.

Climate change has wide-reaching effects across different industries, such as mining and energy, as it introduces environmental impact and sustainability criteria. Candido also noted that agriculture is, in turn, impacted by concerns around droughts, and tourism faces the risk of bushfires returning.

The online media monitoring company designed an ESG Insights dashboard to help businesses keep track of conversations surrounding ESG. This dashboard allows companies to measure and gauge public sentiment on social media concerning how various ESG pillars view their brands.

“By monitoring and responding to these sentiments, organisations can align their strategies with public expectations and work towards more sustainable practices,” Candido said.

The outlook for ANZ and SEA markets

Candido’s role as VP of Australia and New Zealand expanded in 2022 to include Southeast Asia, in which he oversees various departments and functions, from sales and marketing teams to local product development. As part of his responsibilities, he orchestrates cohesive strategies across these departments and ensures alignment with the overarching goals of ANZ and SEA.

“While we receive global directives from Meltwater’s HQ, we recognise the importance of adapting our strategies to reflect regional nuances.”

He said their Australian customers are well versed in using traditional media to monitor and manage brand reputation. However, he noted that the media landscape is changing rapidly, and social media plays an increasingly important role in marketing and communications.

“This presents a big growth opportunity for Meltwater to equip our customers to better leverage social media insights with traditional media to drive key business and campaign decisions,” he said.

Candido said Meltwater’s vision is to harness traditional and social media data to empower their customers to make informed decisions and unlock their competitive edge. He added that they execute this by tailoring strategies to the local markets and executing through the local teams on the ground.

Looking to the year ahead, Candido shared that his goal is to create value in the Australian economy and its communities.

“Whether that means supporting our customers in their roles and helping them achieve more success, nurturing and hiring local talent and playing a hand in developing their careers or giving back to the communities that have welcomed my family.

“I’m a big believer that change starts with me, and I’m committed to creating opportunities for others. If I can do that well, then I’m doing my job,” Candido added.

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