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Isentia names Asia chief executive, to double down on multi-market strategy

Isentia Group has appointed James Merritt (pictured) as chief executive, Asia, effective 4 November 2019, as it continues to strengthen its executive team under CEO and managing director Ed Harrison. His appointment comes a few months after former chief executive, Asia David Liu left the company.

Merritt will be responsible for continued growth and strategy execution across Isentia’s Asia markets, and he joins from his head of APAC role at global customer data science firm dunnhumby. Merritt said he has been inspired by the team so far and looks forward to growing the Asia markets and helping further strengthen Isentia’s position as the leading provider of media intelligence in APAC.

“I’m excited to be joining Isentia at a time when the company is moving quickly to meet the changing needs of the PR and communications industry,” he added.

Meanwhile, Harrison said Merritt is a seasoned professional and commercial leader, bringing with him plenty of passion for delivering real value and business building as evidenced through his success in multiple Asian markets.

“Merritt’s familiarity with market solutions that combine technology, software and consulting, mean that he is particularly well-placed to lead our Asia strategy. Asia market growth is a critical element of our strategy and a solid, strategic leader will further strengthen our position here,” Harrison added.

Meanwhile, Jason Lee, regional director, Southeast Asia will be leaving the company in August to pursue consulting opportunities. According to his LinkedIn, he has been with Isentia for eight years, first helming the role of social media executive in 2012 before rising in the ranks and taking on leadership roles such as account director, regional business director and general manager.

Lee said: “It’s been a great journey working with the Isentia team and leading the region. There’s such incredible talent across the company, and at a regional level, I have so much pride in what has been and will be achieved – with more success on the horizon.”

Harrison added that Lee has done a wonderful job in his eight years with the company, including securing growth in Singapore and across Southeast Asia. He added that the relationships Lee has built with Isentia’s clients and its local teams across the region is a tribute to his leadership skills and character.

“This has created a solid foundation from which to grow, with a strong regional team already in place, who will be joined by new appointments in highly skilled areas, as well as Merritt,” Harrisson added.

Last month, Isentia also saw the exit of former regional director, Asia Denny Levinson who joined the company in 2017 as a consultant after the acquisition of China Newswire, a PR distribution, journalist database and media analytics service based in Shanghai.

In the first half of 2019, Isentia said in its financial report that it witnessed growth in Southeast Asia, while North Asia remained challenging. Overall, Asia saw a revenue of US$17.5 million, a 0.1% increase from H1 FY 18, as compared to ANZ which saw a 4.9% drop in revenue to US$44.7 million this year.

Harrison explained that the strong growth in Southeast Asia during that period reflected its regional leadership in social media analytics and the strategic focus it has given to developing its services as a multi-market partner. While all of its Southeast Asia markets are heavily focused on social media and insights, Harrison said that some of Isentia’s North Asia markets are more heavily skewed towards traditional media monitoring.

“Looking forward, Isentia will bring this same insights expertise to the forefront in North Asia, while continuing to develop our unique multi-language technology capabilities and the implementation of a single Mediaportal platform,” he added.

Recently, Isentia expanded its Mediaportal platform with a new analytics dashboard, designed for communications professionals to showcase the value of their activities and find fast insights. With the new platform, Isentia said  customers across Asia Pacific can have access to quick, visual social and media coverage data, which will help them spot key themes or flag warning signs. According to Isentia, Mediaportal Analytics is one of the first key product changes following a restructure of the marketing, client experience and product team, which was part of the company’s transformation under the leadership of Harrison.

Future plans

Moving forward, Harrison said it will focus on three things. First, Isentia is integrating its various SaaS platforms across the region into a single platform and investing heavily in advanced on-platform analytics. Secondly, it is investing in a multi-market strategy to capitalise on its unique footprint and expertise across the region. Lastly, it will also be launching new Insights products that use media data to help organisations better understand, amongst other things, perceptions of their brands.

When asked about the challenges Isentia foresees in the next few months, Harrison said the biggest challenge for PR and marketing professionals is the increasing speed and complexity of the media and communications landscape, and the increasing need for the discipline to demonstrate business impact of this important function through data. As a result, it sees increasing demand for analytical tools, cross-channel insights and real-time content delivery to ensure our customers can communicate internally at speed and with all the necessary information.

“Many of our upcoming product releases will be aimed directly at addressing these needs and looking further at how Isentia can not only support our customers, but also whole of organisation success,” he added.

(Read also: Isentia provides statement on alleged copyright infringement in Thailand)

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