Where Data meets Marketing

Where Data meets Marketing

Today, marketing, be it online or offline, is all about driving better ROIs. This simply means that the role of insights drawn from analytics is crucial, irrespective of the medium on which a marketing campaign is run. In this story, we take a closer look at how two startups, Frrole and Proof of Performance, are leveraging data (for marketing) in the media analytics and media buying space

TWITTER’S RIGHT HAND LAD

AMARPREET KALKAT, NISHITH SHARMA AND ABHISHEK VAID, FOUNDERS, FRROLE

Backed by Google’s Rajan Anandan, Sunil Kalra and a few other angels, SaaS-based Twitter analytics startup Frrole analyses millions of tweets every day and collects relevant information (tweets) for brands and organisations to capitalise on.

Analyse this. In 2014 alone, Twitter witnessed 500 million tweets being posted everyday on various topics. Now, as a marketer who monitors and interprets tons of customer data on Twitter on a daily basis, how do you identify and differentiate between tweets which are relevant and irrelevant to your brand? Enter Frrole.

Founded in 2011 by Amarpreet Kalkat, Nishith Sharma and Abhishek Vaid, Frrole, scans millions of Twitter feeds every day and collects relevant information for brands and organisations to capitalise on. “Social analytics companies have always existed, but their analysis has mostly been limited to providing statistical data. When it comes to contextual understanding of what each tweet means or what insights a group of tweets can infer, there is hardly anything available,” reasons Sharma.

Frrole was not the founding team’s Plan A. Kalkat plunged into entrepreneurship with his first venture Travelomy.com, a travel website which incorporated real-time curated data from Twitter. When working on it, he thought of extending the concept of data mining to other content genres, thus giving birth to a social news portal, Socialnews. “Though it recorded phenomenal user growth, it was difficult to convince investors that a local news discovery platform is a viable business model in the long term,” explains Sharma. That is when the model pivoted to a Twitter data curation and analytics platform.

The know-how 

So, how does it work? First, its technology platform uses filters to segregate relevant tweets from spam or irrelevant tweets. Secondly, the raw tweets are aligned with semantic information such as verbs, nouns, adjectives or pronouns. Then, the tweets are further segregated in terms of contextual information such as time-frame, sentiments, related to a personality or genres like politics or fashion. “All of this can be done on multiple levels on tweet level, a topic level or a user level. Currently, we process over 10 million tweets a day,” remarks Sharma.

Since it operates on an SaaS-based model, it charges clients for the data it offers to them. For example, if Star Sports wants to collate Twitter data for the World Cup, it will share a specified limit of processed data with the company and charge them for that. Sharma adds here that the (client) engagement may vary from a few months to a few years depending on their requirements. Some of its clients include companies like ESPN, Times Now, Headlines today, Star Plus, Ten Sports and Times of India.

The company has worked with a few startups like Dexetra and Brizz TV as well. Sharma believes that this segment is quick in adopting any new technology unlike a few larger companies. “We’ve seen that while our typical sales cycle ranges from one to three months, it tends to be very quick with startups, typically a few days. Startups working with each other is definitely going to help evolve the ecosystem and help both entities to grow with each other,” he opines.

The differentiating factor 

In April 2014, the startup raised U.S. $245K in funding via Letsventure.com. The  investors included Sharad Sharma (co-founder and governing council member of iSpirit), Rajan Anandan of Google India and Sunil Kalra (Independent Angel Investor), to name a few.

According to Sharma, there are only a handful of companies, that too in the U.S., that directly compete against Frrole. “Spredfast and Datasift are some of the big names in the domain, though they are very different in how they use social data. With the direction we are taking for our upcoming user intelligence product we do not really see directly related competition in the near to mid-term,” he says. The product it is developing aims to understand user behaviour deeply by analysing their activities across all social media platforms. “We aim to create a profile of each user based on their behaviour on social media and share that data with brands to help them create more relevance among their customers,” says Sharma.

The biggest challenge the company faces today is in scaling up its business. Currently, while it analyses a fraction of tweets generated every day, to scale up, it needs to analyse a whole gamut of tweets and eventually implement the technology in other social networks as well. This, Sharma says, is Frrole’s long-term goal.

Its bigger ambition is to be what Google is to information search. “Just the way Google understands web and innovates without showing any sign of stopping, we want to do the same for social web, understanding every piece of data on every social network. We want to use this data to generate business value for our customers,” says Sharma, on a parting note.

CASE STUDY

Objective

Times Now, as a part of its Newshour show wanted to display public opinion about the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

Campaign Duration: One month

Budget: U.S $10,000

Strategy and Implementation

Frrole used elements such as heatmaps, time graphs, tweet tickers and sentiment analysis to make storytelling much more interesting and deep. Within a month, the Newshour became the most social show Indian media has seen so far.

ARE YOU A STREET (SMART) MARKETER?

HARJAAP SINGH MANN, FOUNDER, PROOF OF PERFORMANCE

Proof of Performance, the outdoor advertising database specialist, which shot to popularity after aiding BJP in its Lok Sabha election campaign, is now focussing on encouraging startups to adopt OOH advertising, with its new product Bookmyooh

In 2014, much after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) implemented its Lok Sabha election campaign, analysts, researchers and media houses took a deep dive into the party’s marketing campaign strategy, built case studies based on it, revealed untold stories from Modi’s social media plan and talked about the media agencies behind its success. While the campaign offered ample learnings’ for marketers on the new media and digital front, another industry, which was quietly involved in this journey and caught the attention of marketers was out of home advertising (OOH).

Proof of Performance (PoP), a four-year old outdoor advertising database specialist was among the many agencies signed on by BJP, to monitor the outdoor campaign activities of the Congress party in New Delhi.  “Capturing data for the Lok Sabha elections was a form of stress testing for us. We now have an outdoor advertising database of over 60,000 media assets in 30 cities,” reveals Harjaap Singh Mann, its founder.

In 2012, the startup was founded with one primary goal; to offer scientific data that allows brands to measure ROI on outdoor media activities. “When we initially started off there were a lot of negative vibes about this industry. OOH advertising was not popular because there was a lack of accountability and companies didn’t know if the campaigns resulted in a good ROI,” indicates Mann. But, with the emergence of scientific data collation, the perception about the industry started slowly but positively changing. Today, apart from collating and distributing scientific data, PoP also offers competitive intelligence, compliance audits and outdoor media planning services.

Measuring the impact 

The PoP team uses vehicle mounted infrastructure and video analytics to analyse and rate each media asset. In fact, the company has also developed a proprietary product called the Visibility Index, with a committee of professors from IIM-Ahmedabad. The product takes into account the physical attributes of a media asset such as angle to the eye, traffic level at the location, visibility distance, duration and such. Based on these parameters, every media asset is rated on a scale of one to five. Backed by Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), YourNest Angel Fund and two unnamed angel investors, in the past three years, the team has visited over 30 cities and analysed and rated over 60,000 media assets. Apart from this, it has also collated outdoor advertising data from over 22,000 small and unique multinational brands. PoP uses this data to implement its competitive intelligence and outdoor planning services.

In the case of compliance audits, the company has developed an Android app which audits the media assets chosen by a brand and generates a certificate that marketing teams can verify for their own campaigns. “Often, though a brand has reserved a media asset (such as, a billboard or a bus shelter) for a campaign, it is moved to a different location, the creatives are tampered with or some other brand’s ad has been placed, thus resulting in loss of revenues. This is where audits help,” points out Mann. For this service, PoP charges on a cost per click basis. Each time a member goes to inspect the location it is counted as one click. For example, if a brand has installed 1,000 billboards and PoP audits it four times a month, it results in 4,000 clicks.

The startup-OOH equation 

Until now, the absence of actionable insights has prevented startups and SMEs from turning to OOH for their marketing needs. But, even here, Mann sees a change in perception. In fact, specifically for this segment, PoP has developed a product called Bookmyooh, which uses scientific data (collated by the company) and recommends optimal advertising strategies for companies. “Initially, we used to send reports and analysis on media assets to this segment. But, many felt that though the reports were helpful, they still have to go in search of an external agency to develop an effective OOH campaign. In fact, they wanted us to offer this service internally,” recalls Mann. Though the idea initially met with a lot of resistance, it was eventually implemented as a separate product. “The main concern was that we didn’t want to steer away from our focus of being a neutral audit company. But, after much thought, we decided to roll it out,” he states.

In the future 

While PoP’s primary focus until now has been on collating scientific data on offline platforms, going forward, it plans to leverage its outdoor advertising exchange (bookmyooh) business as well. “Today, if a brand chooses a media asset for a campaign, the media buying agency buys it from the asset owner and charges the company (brand) for it. Essentially, there is a lack of transparency in transactions between the company, the agency and the asset owner,” indicates Mann. Thus, Bookmyooh will be a platform where the three parties can transact openly. “With this, the company will have more clarity on what the asset owner charges for the media asset and what price the agency is paying for it,” he adds.

Secondly, having covered a significant portion of the Indian OOH industry, PoP plans to expand into global markets, particularly into Asia-Pacific, U.S. and Europe. “We want to take the Bookmyooh and audit services to the global market. In fact, we are already doing some work in these markets,” says Mann as he signs off.

 

CASE STUDY

Objective 

Many potential customers assumed that khadi is expensive or the material is coarse. This resulted in a dent in sales for the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC). Thus, the objective of the campaign was to popularise the use of khadi among youth in New Delhi and to generate higher sales for KVIC.

Budget: Rs. 99,000

Campaign Duration: Five weeks

Strategy & Implementation 

PoP identified a non-conventional and cost effective method to reach out to the target audience; eateries. It partnered with Café Coffee Day for this campaign.

Step One: Designed tent cards and discount coupons, with each card pinned with a sample fabric. This allowed the customer to touch and feel the fabric.

Step Two: Placed the tent cards and the discount coupons in outlets at Connaught Palace and North Delhi University Campus.

Step Three: Captured customer footfall on video and assigned an executive to keep track of the daily sales recorder at KVIC counters through the discount coupons.

Big Data Data Analytics Frrole Letsventure.com Media Buying out of home advertising Proof of Performance Rajan Anandan Twitter