Salesforce scoops up MinHash for marketing intelligence

The tiny startup puts AI to work to help identify trends and develop campaigns

It's no secret that marketing is a big consumer of big data, so it's perhaps not all that surprising that Salesforce has acquired MinHash. Founded just last year, the tiny, four-person startup has been applying data science to making sense of audience trends.

News of the acquisition was uncovered Monday, but terms were not disclosed.

"At Salesforce, we will continue to pursue our passion for search, data science and machine learning on a much broader scale, as part of the world’s #1 CRM company," read the announcement MinHash site.

The MinHash platform will be discontinued on 21 January 2016.

Salesforce confirmed only that the MinHash team is joining its own, but it didn't respond to a request for further details.

MinHash describes its flagship AILA product as "your personal, AI-driven marketing media maven." In essence, it aims to relieve marketers of the burden of scanning thousands of media posts, tracking trending keywords and social signals, managing workflows and coordinating campaigns.

Instead, MinHash's technology taps artificial intelligence to uncover emerging trends across media sources and then help marketers respond quickly via campaigns that integrate text, images, hashtags and URLs.

More specifically, algorithms ingest media and apply phrase detection to extract trending messaging. Crawlers, meanwhile, find images and messaging to compose into creative material that resonates with a particular message and audience. The results can then be imported into a favorite marketing tool, MinHash says.

California-based MinHash -- which shares its name, incidentally, with a well-known hashing scheme -- claims roots at eBay, Oracle and Stanford.

MinHash's technology is not the first recommendation engine in its field, but "the use of a bot to drive campaigns looks interesting," said Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group. "I expect it's a sign of the future."

Although there was a move toward vendor relationship management, or VRM, in the last decade with the goal of protecting customers from unwanted recommendations, it was inhibited by its complexity, Pombriant pointed out.

MinHash, however, could produce a VRM-like result that's simple, he said.

"Almost by definition, if you can pinpoint demand to the exact product and customer, then you're not bothering people -- you have become a trusted advisor," he said. "There's a lot of build-out left to do here, but it seems the instincts are right."

In September, Salesforce unveiled a new product for relationship intelligence based on its RelateIQ acquisition last year. Earlier this year, it acquired smart calendar startup Tempo AI.

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