Italian Buzzoole Uses AI To Connect Brands With Content Creators

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The Italian startup developed the first Image Recognition System for Influencer Marketing based on deep convolutional networks. We spoke to Co-Founder & CEO Fabrizio Perrone about the technology and purpose behind it:

How would you describe Buzzoole in a few words?

Buzzoole is an end-to-end platform able to connect brands and Content Creators for mutual benefit. It uses a proprietary algorithm to identify suitable content creators to help brands take their message beyond traditional marketing channels. The resulting social amplification helps generate word of mouth, engagement, footfall, and purchase.

What inspired you to create the platform? How did it all start?

Buzzoole is an evolution of ViralEye, a word-of-mouth generation platform I had been working on for a few years. After meeting Gennaro Varriale, today our CTO, who had obtained a great visibility worldwide with his Pingram (Pinterest+Instagram) project, we decided to bet on a very complex algorithm able to merge both projects.

In 2013 we built our very first team with Luca Pignataro (Art Director) and Luca Camillo (Developer and Systems Engineer) and started participating in the first startup competitions and generating money.

As you mentioned, you use a proprietary algorithm to identify suitable influencers to help brands take their message beyond traditional marketing channels. Could you explain more about the tech & metrics behind this?

Our innovative method is based on a proprietary algorithm named GAIIA — Growing Artificial Intelligence for Influencer Affinity (you can learn more about it here). GAIIA selects and involves the best Content Creators for every brand, optimizes activities according to targets, monitors, and controls all performances in real-time. Thanks to Natural Language Understanding (NLU) we are able to understand the language used by people across social channels and isolate influential topic. With the help of Open Data and Social Graph, we can identify the network of the influencers and, therefore, their affinity with brands (brand affinity index). Finally, through image recognition, we can process and understand the content of shared pictures.

Brands are always able to monitor their campaign performances in real-time: nowadays Influencer Marketing is, in fact, a measurable advertising format in all its aspects. It allows to obtain detailed reports for each campaign, providing the main KPIs, such as cost per engagement, reach, number and type of interactions, analysis of sentiment, as well as an overview of the posts that performed best in a country. We have also implemented another feature that allows our content creators to link their Google Analytics account to the platform. In this way, when you make a blog campaign, you will have the actual metrics on the performance of the published articles (such as visits, unique users, time spent, click on the post, etc.).

Let’s talk a bit more about the Image Recognition System. How does it work?

We have developed the first Image Recognition System for Influencer Marketing based on deep convolutional networks: a “generic” image recognition system has the potential for a higher risk of error than a highly specialized one. What we are trying to do at Buzzoole is to develop vertical models for specific sectors, such as food, fashion, travel, etc. In this way, we will not only be able to more effectively meet the needs of the brands that choose to work with us, but also to pick profiles with maximum affinity.

We are able to do this thanks to our very large database of content creators and to an even greater number of images that we have processed in anonymous form in order to improve our image categorization system. Another key aspect of our technology is that we can retrieve images as well as the context in which they are produced. A picture with a bunch of people, for example, could represent a group of friends or a football team in a field. A well-trained image recognition system can capture all the elements in the image and contextualize them to extract the right meaning. This huge amount of information collected from various social channels, combined with a categorization process through NLP, helps us gain a deeper understanding of our users.

Influencer startups are on the rise – what makes Buzzoole stand out from the crowd? What is the key differentiator?

We are foremost an end-to-end platform which means that we are able to manage all the phases of an Influencer Marketing strategy from advice to the initial concept, to the selection of Influencers, until the campaign is delivered and results are monitored.

Secondly, we are a data-driven, automated platform based on a semantic algorithm, image recognition, and Open Graph. Our role, therefore, is to provide a powerful data analysis tool that allows brands to identify influencers with the highest degree of affinity and our users to have free analytics on their influence and the opportunity to participate in campaigns with their favorite brands.

Finally, we have a strong human touch: a dedicated team of professionals is ready to assist our clients from the design of strategic and creative plans to the operation management of campaigns, while also taking care of direct relations with the influencers involved.

Are you using Buzzoole internally? How does that affect the viewpoints of the development team?

As Buzzoole is both a fully-managed and a self-service platform, we do use it on a daily basis. We can say that we are the first Buzzoole users and critics. Not only do we use the platform to acquire new influencers through content marketing internal campaigns but we continuously give feedback on new features so that the development team can incorporate our input into their work.

Italian Buzzoole Uses Image Recognition To Connect Brands With InfluencersYou launched 2013 in Naples, Italy and have now grown to an over 70 people strong team, expanding rapidly. How do you manage to maintain a sustainable company culture, sharing the same vision?

We bet on a very hard city in southern Italy to start, Naples, when all the startups and media agencies gather in Milan or Rome. We decided to maintain our headquarter in Naples and open new offices in Italy and abroad. We have overcome many obstacles at the very beginning that now it’s clear we all share a precise vision of how to grow, how to choose key-people in our team, whom to partner with, how to boost our success.

We want to keep the strongest roots and the widest perspectives. This vision allowed us to open new offices in London in 2016 and in New York at the beginning of 2018, and we’re looking forward to expanding to Russia and India soon where we have been backed by a fund (Impulse) and have made strategic partnerships (GroupM), respectively.

Having people from very different places is a strength for us. Diversity is the beating heart of our company: through the unstoppable exchange of opinions and points of view, new ideas are born every day. It helps us improve the platform and always provide quality service.

With opening new offices in New York and London after Italy you’ve made quite some experiences when it comes to expansion. Tell us a bit about your expansion process and the challenges & opportunities it entails.

Awards boosted our branding activities just as we were in the middle of our fundraising activity: Intel Business Challenge Europe (2014), Unilever Startup Foundry Street, Global Entrepreneur Programme of UK Trade&Investment (2015), Accenture Consumer Tech Awards in New York (2017, top 3). In 2015 we closed a capital increase of $1M+ thanks to Digital Magics, R301, and other VCs/Angels. To date, we have raised a total amount of $3M, including a $1.8M convertible note closed in 2016/2017 (led by Impulse VC, R301 Capital).

We closed 2017 with a global turnover of around $5M. This allowed us to grow rapidly and be invited to important awards/events worldwide, from FbStart&Apps of the Year to SEC2SV (Mountain View) or HUL Content Day (Mumbai).

What is the biggest challenge that your company has faced?

We can mention three of them: the first, that very first moment the idea started becoming concrete, the intense planning months and the uncertainty about its success; the second, the transition from startup to a solid company, with all the difficulties and challenges it means in terms of organization and mindset shift; the third, the challenge of standing out from the crowd of competitors in the Influencer Marketing space, which is getting more crowded and competitive everyday.

What’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

I would just say “don’t be afraid to make mistakes”. No startup began its path with great success, you have to fail a million times in order to succeed. Do you think Jeff Bezos became who he is now in just the blink of an eye? Did you know that soon after launching Amazon, a few savvy consumers discovered how to take advantage of a technical glitch that allowed them to purchase a negative number of books that resulted in free credits? What you learn from your mistakes is priceless. If you feel like giving up after a few failures, maybe you’re not meant to be a successful entrepreneur. Always try harder and listen carefully to the market needs to produce a real innovative product or service.

What’s next for Buzzoole?

We want to scale and boost our international expansion strategy: after New York, we’re looking at other non-European countries such as India and Russia. We will also keep improving our platform features and capabilities, with an eye at the core of its tech, Artificial Intelligence. We’re betting on big data and AI to get even more refined information on our database and provide brands with a strategic approach to their campaigns.

Enriched Profile_Buzzoole

Buzzoole’s Enriched Profile

Recently we have also launched the Enriched Profile, a brand new dashboard that shows in-depth analytics on creators’ brand affinity and detailed insights on their audiences. This will benefit both content creators and brands by enabling them to monitor audience insights and the overall performance of their social channels at a glance. Details such as demographics and geolocation of any creators’ audience will enable brands to target their campaigns in an unprecedented way. In a nutshell, brands can now look beyond creators and understand the impact any campaign has on the selected target audience. Our enriched profile represents the state of the art of the analytics for influencer marketing.

Finally, fundraising never ends, and we hope you’ll receive news from us soon 🙂





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