An in-depth understanding of consumers sits at the heart of what we all need to do, but we know it’s not always easy to uncover insights that will unlock a true innovation opportunity.
Google buys object recognition machine learning company
Someone at Google really likes sneakers: The company has just bought a French machine learning startup that taught a computer how to recognise 15,000 different types of them.
Paris-based Moodstocks builds image and object recognition software using deep learning techniques, and offered an Android app and visual search API that could recognise certain kinds of object. By analysing video from a smartphone camera, and correlating it with accelerometer readings to determine how the camera is moving around, the software is able to infer information about the three-dimensional shape of objects in the video, facilitating their recognition.
In February 2015, the company demonstrated its ability to identify sneakers through its app. Three months later, after training the software using 15,000 photos of shoes from an online retailer's website, Moodstocks claimed to be able to shop online for all the sneakers on sale in a Macy's store.
Google has been introducing elements of machine learning into its existing online services, including Google Translate and Inbox, a next-generation interface for Gmail. Its online photo archival service, Google Photos, uses machine learning to identify categories of photo, such as parties or beach scenes, to make it easier to search.
But there's still a lot of work to be done in this field, according to Google's blog post (in French) announcing the acquisition of Moodstocks. Google said the Moodstocks team will join its existing research and development operation in Paris. There, they will develop image recognition tools for use in Google services, the Moodstocks team wrote on their own site.
Meanwhile, Moodstocks will discontinue its own image recognition services, although paying subscribers will have access until their subscriptions run out, the post said. The acquisition price tag was not disclosed.
Microsoft’s new Dynamics 365
Microsoft is working on a new offering called Dynamics 365 that will combine its current ERP and CRM cloud services into a single bundle and include applications purpose-built for specific business functions.
Due to be available later this year, Dynamics 365 will feature apps for functions including financials, field service, sales, operations, marketing, project service automation and customer service. The apps can be independently deployed, allowing users to buy only what they need.
Microsoft's Power BI and Cortana Intelligence tools will be natively embedded for predictive capabilities. With Cortana Intelligence, for instance, sales reps will be able to predict which products and services a customer will need next, thereby helping to focus their cross-selling efforts.
Dynamics 365 will also be tightly integrated with Office 365. Apps will use a common data model that's shared with Office 365, and they'll also come with connectors that let you integrate with applications and services from Microsoft and its partners, including custom APIs and on-premises systems.
Customers will be able license Dynamics 365 by application, but they'll also be able to license users based on their professional role. Corporate vice-president for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Jujhar Singh, said customers already using Dynamics CRM online or Dynamics AX online will enjoy a “seamless transition”.
Experian and Neustar partner up
Experian Marketing Services and Neustar have joined forces to offer a range of expanded data onboarding solutions for marketers to help them activate data across direct match partners in addressable media channels including mobile, display, email and TV.
The partnership sees Neustar’s Omnichannel Onboarding solution, which allows marketers to create audience segments using transactional data, being integrated with Experian’s new digital data cooperative as well as its data quality, matching logic and partnerships with media companies worldwide. The companies said Neustar’s onboarding offering on identity management will be combined with Experian’s ConsumerView database for better engagements.
“Marketers know that they need to be data-driven. They also know that it's time to move beyond simple CRM customer file matching. They want to use more meaningful data, like customer transactions,” said Neustar SVP of corporate development, Ted Prince.
“Together with Experian Marketing Services, we are offering an end-to-end omnichannel solution from onboarding to activation that will give advertisers the best ability to utilise their data to deliver the best connected customer experiences to real audiences across multiple channels and devices. We're excited to see what clients can do with the power of our partnership.”
Hypetap expands creative influence
Influencer management technology vendor, Hypetap, has launched a creative service offering to support platform users throughout the influencer marketing process.
The service has been in trial for the past six months, with more than 25 top tier brands participating on an invitation-only basis including General Motors.
Hypetap’s creative team checks briefs then helps the agency or brand find appropriate content creators for their campaign from the 1380 invitation-only influencers on the platform. Following that, Hypetap’s creative service handles all moving parts of a campaign, from negotiation to media scheduling, to reporting, capturing influencer insights and aggregating campaign performance.
“We were getting increasing requests for creative and campaign management services from agency users who were being asked to offer influencer marketing by their clients,” Hypetap co-founder, Detch Singh, said. “Agencies don’t have the time to manage campaigns end-to-end, and there is a risk with hybrid models that everyone becomes too generalist. We have found our users are increasingly looking for a partner to help them offer high quality influencer marketing campaigns.
The creative agency offering will complement Hypetap’s self-service platform to enable brands to further streamline their campaign management workflow with industry-first technology.
Freshdesk launches CRM solution
Customer engagement software player, Freshdesk, has rolled out a new CRM solution and sales system aimed at helping sales reps better manage clients in high-velocity environments.
Freshsales incorporates capabilities for lead, deal and account management, email and phone integration, user behaviour tracking, lead scoring, a visual sales pipeline and reporting. It’s also available as a mobile app.
“For years, our sales team struggled to integrate all the products we needed into one of the leading CRM tools — but in the end, it was still just an expensive manual dumping ground for data,” said Freshdesk founder and CEO, Girish Mathrubootham.
“As a fast growing SaaS business, we needed a solution that empowered our sales team with context based on user activity, prioritised leads based on engagement, and enhanced sales rep productivity. Sick of cobbling together a system that had already cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, we decided to build Freshsales.”
CA co-founder reveals new digital discovery venture
Co-founder of Computer Associates and 39-year company veteran, Russ Artzt, has partnered with the vendor’s former chief architect, Vincent Re on launching a new company to help organisations better gauge their digital footprint.
Digital Associates is a marketing technology company focused on discovering, analysing and improving clients’ digital scope. Its first offering, Domain Discovery, is a software solution that reviews 88 million global companies and more than 200 million registered domains to determine a company’s digital footprint. In a statement, the company said 1 million registered domains are being added to its search weekly.
“We’re helping to define this space by giving companies a comprehensive analysis of their digital presence in a very cost-efficient manner,” Artzt said. “And then we’re going to help them figure out the best way to develop their resources.”
Programmatic native advertising for mobiles
Mobile adtech provider, AdMaxim, is claiming a mobile-first with a programmatic native advertising platform for marketers called native.ly.
The new platform is based on a combination of audience segmentation, device and connection type targeting, location, live data dynamic creative optimisation, private marketplace deals and other techniques and will allow advertisers to target native campaigns across mobiles.
In a report in Marketing Tech News, AdMaxim CEO, Sultan Khan, said he believed native will be a key pillar in digital adtech’s future. The vendor’s new solution is about building a system that gives marketers the ability to use any native format or creative approach and combined it with more targeted data optimisation, he said.
Blirt connects CRM to financial project management
Martech player, Blirt, has connected its financial project management system for SMBs to Salesforce CRM through a new app, called WFMCRM.
WFMCRM is available within the Salesforce AppExchange and converts opportunities won inside Salesforce CRM into jobs within WorkflowMax.com, a Xero accounting product. The all-in-one job management software can be used for quotes, time sheets, job management, job costing, invoicing and is used by more than 8000 businesses including creative agencies, professional services, architects, surveyors, and other service businesses.
The WFMCRM App allows accounts, contact and opportunity information in Salesforce to push to WorkfowMax. Users can manage the push process within the custom interface inside Salesforce using the new app.
Advia debuts offering for real-time, in-venue insights
US-based tech player, Advia Partners, is debuting a new platform that combines visual detection, digital signature and environmental collective devices to help brands connect with consumers in real-time in sports and entertainment venues.
The cloud-based software collects and analyses data from event sites, such as detailed audience size, behaviour and demographics, to identify the viewers in that location. It can then be used to trigger content targeting that type of viewer, on a mobile or connected device, with data stored for further analysis and actions.
Target verticals include sport and entertainment events, airports, college and education market, automotive, and entertainment venues. Advia is also running a pilot around outdoor out-of-home advertising.
“Imagine attending your favourite sporting event or entertainment venue and seeing messages that you actually want to see and interest you,” said Advia Partners CEO, John DeCaprio. “Our technology delivers the right messaging to the right audience at the right time. And, by collecting and storing data, advertisers, sponsors and other stakeholders can also continually improve the conversation and enhance the audience experience.”
Virtual reality production house comes to Australia
VRLive, a virtual reality and 360-degree live video broadcasting company, has set up shop in Australia.
The company’s white-label technology allows users to incorporate 360-degree and VR content videos, including live video streaming, into their business models. VRLive has also developed a ticketing platform and VR distribution system for delivering pay-per-view VR concerts.
The platform is already being used by a range of events, bands and festivals globally including US, Coldplay, iHeartRadio Music Awards and EDC, which was recently live streamed in Las Vegas to an onsite VR lounge featuring more than 50 headsets.
The company has appointed Howlaround Entertainment Group’s CEO, Liam Clifford, as its MD locally.
- With additional reporting by Peter Sayer and Katherine Noyes