Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, European Union, Global Politics, Insights, Lobbying, Politics, Public Affairs and Communications, Social Media, U.S. Politics

Breakdown of TTIP and TAFTA

TTIP/TAFTA is a true game changer for both the EU and US in terms of economic value, especially in a time of crisis for the EU.  To find out exactly what content people consumed and analyze policy trends, we mined the web (big data). At the moment TTIP/TAFTA  is not being met without issues – as we all know in Brussels – #NSAGate, data privacy and IP are slowing down negotiations (we’re looking at you France), and this is generally what the data had to say as well.

Over view: 5,505 mentions of  TTIP/TAFTA in the last 100 days – too large of number for business and institutions to ignore. In short you need to join the conversation if you have something to say about it ASAP (indecision is a decision).

Overview of the last 100 days amplitude.

Overview of the last 100 days amplitude.

The biggest uptick – a total of 300 mentions – came when Obama spoke at the G-8 summit in Ireland on June 17th when trade talks began. The key theme at this time was the potential boost in the economy. The official press release is here.

“The London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research estimates a pact – to be known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – could boost the EU economy by 119 billion euros (101.2 billion pounds) a year, and the U.S. economy by 95 billion euros.However, a report commissioned by Germany’s non-profit Bertelsmann Foundation and published on Monday, said the United States may benefit more than Europe. A deal could increase GDP per capita in the United States by 13 percent over the long term but by only 5 percent on average for the European Union, the study found.”

Given that there is conflicting information we wanted to see whose idea and data wins out – the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) or Bertelsmann Foundation (BF)? To do this we looked to see which study was referenced most. The chart below shows the mentions of each organization within the TTIP/TAFTA conversation over the last 100 days. The Center for Economic Policy Research is in orange and the Bertelsmann Foundation is in green.

Research cited most for TAFTA and TTIP

In total both studies were cited almost the same amount:

  • Centre for Economic Policy Research: 80 Mentions
  • Bertelsmann Foundation: 83 mentions
  • Both organizations were mentioned together 53 Times.

More recently though the trend seems to show that the Economic Policy Research is being cited most in the last 30 days, including a large uptick on July 8th. This is mainly due to the market share of the sources being located more in the US and the US wanting to get a deal done faster than the more hesitant Europeans. Keep in mind the CEP claims larger benefits of TAFTA/TTIP than the BF study.

Locations of the Center for Economic Policy Research and the Bertelsmann Foundation. Very diverse and more equal location market share.

Locations of the Center for Economic Policy Research and the Bertelsmann Foundation in the last 30 days: Notice the location marketshare is less diverse and dominated by the USA.

Where are the mentions?

  • The  US had 2,743 mentions (49% overall)
  • All of Europe combined total was 1,986 (36% overall)


Of the topics ACTA is still being talked about with, IP and Data Protection top the list. This is not surprising given France’s reluctance to be agreeable because of the former and #prism, so below are those themes plotted.

Breakdown and trend graph of Topics surrounding TTIP TAFTA

Breakdown and trend graph of Topics surrounding TTIP TAFTA

The top stories on Twitter are in the table below. It’s not surprising that the White House is number one, but where are the EU institutions and media on this?

Top Stories Tweets Retweets All Tweets Impressions
White House 37 15 52 197738
Huff Post  26 0 26 54419
Forbes  23 0 23 1950786
JD Supra 15 2 17 42304
Wilson Center  12 7 19 72424
Facebook 12 0 12 910
Italia Futura 8 0 8 16640
BFNA 7 0 7 40246 7 13 20 69356
Slate  7 0 7 13927

Everybody knows the battle for hearts and minds of people starts with a good acronym so I broke down the market share between TTIP (165) and TAFTA (2197):

Acronym Market Share: TTIP V TAFTA

I may add more in the coming days but those are a few simple bits of info for now.  Nonetheless if you want to join the conversation on Twitter the top hashtags are below.

Top Hashtags for the TTIP and TAFTA debate

Top Hashtags for the TTIP and TAFTA debate

Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, European Union, Global Politics, Insights, Politics, Social Media

A Quick look at 20,000 Tweets about the EU

From October 25 -> December 4th there were 20,022 Tweets Containing the words European Union, European Parliament and European Commission. This means tweets were quite specific and could not be mistaken for anything else, further of course the majority of posts were in English, although more than 30 languages were represented. Many of the quick findings reinforce numerous Social Network Analysis studies which show that most network opinions and frames are controlled by a minority of people – between 10-20% i.e.  elite level. Social media, despite a lot of hype, has not changed this.


The context surrounding these 20K Tweets

  • Were produced by 13,832 accounts
  • Retweets made up 28% of all Tweets
  • The Top 18 Tweets – in terms of most retweeted, made up 9% of all tweets
  • Top 18 Tweets that made up 9% of all tweets were made by 11 accounts
  • The most visible and retweeted Tweet was a coalition with FC Barcelona (below) – ( This leaves me to question why are there not more collaborations between the public and private sector in the EU?)


Top Accounts from Top 18 Tweets:

  • Wikileaks – 6 Tweets in Top 18 (33%)
  • Economist – 2 tweets in top 18 (11%)

Top Users commenting on the Euro. UKIP is seems to be taking a proactive approach to framing it’s primary fodder against the EU (the Euro Crisis).

  • @UKIP 32
  • @YanniKouts 23
  • @lindayueh 18
  • @AssangeC 9
  • @LSEpublicevents 8
Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, Global Politics, Insights, Linguistics, Lobbying

Your next firm should be an IT firm.

I’ve interviewed with them all. The big firms, the small firms. Both in Brussels and in New York.

After working in the European Commission and Parliament, I wanted to go to the private side of Communications and Policy. The problem? I had been running data and insights. Using terms like NLPSentiment analysis, cognitive science and connotation mapping to describe what I did not work well. On the other hand dumbing down would leave me looking like another 27 year old who does “the social media” and or “the internets”. Most firms doing the interview for analytics positions wanted to hear “pivot table”, “engagement”, “influence” and maybe SPSS. Upping the hierarchy on those terms to explain why “something was” appeared unnecessary and impractical since explaining this to a clients communications director is another task with in itself.

So to hell with the PA/PR firms, I joined an IT firm that also does communications – Intrasoft International, and could not be happier.  The people’s skill sets are well defined and paid, which gives them a certain confidence in contrast. They like things such as analytics and completely understand them. Their only fault is the soft side of Communications – which is now my job to merge.

IT is going to take over communications sooner than later. Current  PR firms will be left scrambling. The lack of investment in the deeper meaning (abstract knowledge such as transference, retention and pragmatics) will start to show as data/connotation mining becomes a standard practice. Most IT firms already have this infrastructure in place via their AI departments.

There will be a point where dropping shit jargon is irrelevant and companies Comm Director, who should be more of a CIO/CTO in the nearer future, will see right though it.

My 2 cents. Also check out my presentation at


Brussels, European Parliament, European Union

Some Quick Thoughts About the EU

In the next 25 years I question how the EU will avoid marginalization between Asia and the US? The US is more dynamic and entrepreneurial. From Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook to Pinterest, the list goes on. There’s low investment cost for incorporation, 600% more skilled immigration, congruent legal and professional standards across all states, and 20% more productivity per worker/year. Asia has cheaper manufacturing, growing disposable income and a favourable investment climate. Both have higher patent rates and less labour/tax issues. Given the advances in technology and the higher gains conceivable by those who adopt faster, these facts can quickly become more pronounced.

So how will EU leadership plan to address these issues during political instability, and lack of leadership in the first place? Europeans need to realize the debate needs to be beyond national pride at this point.

Brussels, European Parliament, European Union, Lobbying, Public Affairs and Communications

The EU

Unfortunately the high cost of doing business – taxes, labour laws and questionable professional standards across all member states, threatens to marginalizes the EU between Asia and the US.

USA= Innovation, quick to adapt, dynamic work force, large integrated market.

Asia = Cheap labour, willingness to adapt, on the up and up.

The main issue is hesitation to adopt any new methods. In a knowledge economy such as the EU, liquidity of knowledge is a huge asset. None the less, as we see from the data debate, there are only worries and fears, no positives. This is partly Google and Facebook’s fault for not controlling the debate better, although with the cultural differences, I’m not sure it matters.

What ever side of the debate you are on, there is no way the Commission/Parliament will be able to regulate at the speed that such companies innovate and develop new technologies.

I liken it to a scenario:

Jose is trying to learn how to get a date. He decided to go to  a conference at a hotel that explains how to do this.  On his way to the room where the conference was being held, Jose encounters two doors.  One  leads to the conference  on how to pick up a date. The other door has a  sign that says “Successful single women’s conference. Please join us for a drink.  Anyone is welcome”.  Jose chooses the first door as he had planned, and continued learning and taking notes about how to get a date. The EU relationship with Technology is a lot like Jose’s approach to picking up a date, hesitant and unwilling to adapt in real-time, to the peril of the end goal.

In October I was giving a presentation about on-line media, trend, and sentiment analysis/monitoring to  institution officials. During the presentation I was  asked  “why do we need to understand what people are saying about us?” Admittedly  I was a bit shocked.  Interest in the EU has gone down every year since 2004, as well as voting rates.  In my view  a  good place to start building a proper message that mobilizes people, is to  find out how people perceive and talk about you in the first place. Thinking about the institution officials statement further, I concluded the real issue wasn’t that that  online monitoring couldn’t be useful for their goals, but it  would have created a real-time approach, the antithesis of the  institutional process Europe is familiar with.  The incentive wasn’t there either.

In the globalized future hesitation is dead, improvisation is king, and competition will be fierce. Both EU firms and institutions spend too much time discussing what technologies such as social media mean or can do but never act. On the opposite,  competition is the USA led to elections becoming a  science. The 2012 campaigns will feature natural language processing, text mining, sentiment analysis, and data scientists. These technologies will marginalize every medium and word. There will be  no room for “educated guessing”. This is efficient and saves time and money. Further it may help  yield larger voter turnout as did the 2008 U.S. elections.  Forward to the EU. The system is not competitive. The money is provided by the public, and the European Commission  is in charge of getting  people to vote with a neutral message. And they are still having conferences  about what social media means.The future will embrace adaptability and change, you don’t get the luxury of writing a 10,000 word strategy paper, or a controlled institutional process, life and business  move too fast.  If the EU  is going to have a chance using technology to it’s full advantage , it must first take a shot, and ask it out on a date.

Analytics and Insights, Data Science, Insights, Public Affairs and Communications

Active Communications

The idea of “Active Communications”  is based heavily on media monitoring listening data AND proper framing, which is a bit of an art (unless you have first class AI/NPL skills) . To work efficiently, a multi-channel infrastructure that allows for real-time content is paramount.

Important concepts to take away:

  • Timing and message coherency, to create a critical mass.
  • Trust the data for real time decision making.
  • Location based targeting with Fundamental,Technical and Sentiment analysis, per channel/medium.

Perhaps the biggest aspect is willingness to abandon prior methods after the data is received. You might be more comfortable with Twitter or another channel, but for the specific campaign it could be a  waste of time. Don’t fight up stream.

Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, European Union, Insights, Public Affairs and Communications

Heuristics, Algorithms and Communications: Quick Thoughts

The use of heuristic and taxonomy algorithms for identifying cognitive bias in  communications is a game changer.  According to SAS,  companies that invest in analytics out perform the S&P500 by 64%. I imagine the margin for communication/marketing firms is greater. The market is not anywhere close to mature, and is lopsided to a few in the know. The rest toil in mediocracy via old connections/business that will surely run ground soon.
Today’s great business’s – for the most part, are data driven. Communications is perceived  to be educated guessing.. The use of programming for bias is important because bias cannot be out run. Think of this much like “Inception” and Moneyball combined.

Thanks to social networks we have the largest focus group in history. Analysts can see what people are using to explain how they feel and think – during  specific situations or events. This can also tell  how people interact within context of syntax or an instances. Very powerful and cheap information in contrast to polling or focus groups.

There are patterns/norms with how people engage on each medium. In addition to what type of syntax they use to convey a certain type of  thought. This is all programmed in the mind for the most part. Linguist like Lakoff and Chomsky suggest that brains are hard wired to favor certain patterns that convey meaning. This plays out accurately on-line consistently.

Just a random Sunday thought…Now looking forward to watching the NFL playoffs.