Martech Challenges – Brandwatch Interview

Martech Challenges – Brandwatch Interview

August 01, 2019

At Saas Advisor, we aim to clarify the complex and constantly evolving MarTech market. That’s why we created the Martech Challenges. The Martech Challenge is a contest which compare the best Marketing Technologies under actual conditions of use. This competition will be judged by a panel of experts from global brands and agencies and the results are expected at the beginning of october. For more information about the Martech Challenges, click here
On this 1st Edition we address the Social Listening segment. We interviewed each software company participating in the contest. For 
Brandwatch, Bex Carson Chief Product Officer answered our questions.

Martech Challenges – Brandwatch Company background and particularities

Can you tell us about your organisation?
Brandwatch is the world’s pioneering digital consumer intelligence suite, helping over 2,000 of the planet’s most admired brands and agencies including Unilever, Walmart and Dell to make insightful, data-driven business decisions.

The company was founded in 2005 by our CEO Giles Palmer in Brighton, England. , and has made three acquisitions to date: the social influencer analytics firm PeerIndex in 2014, BuzzSumo as a standalone content marketing and influencer platform in October 2017, and the SaaS market research company Qriously that offers the fastest, most accurate research available through a unique mobile survey system in 2019 to diversify its voice-of-consumer data offering. Additionally, the company was bolstered by its merger with Crimson Hexagon in 2018 to create the most comprehensive AI-powered social intelligence solution.

Brandwatch has over 500 employees in offices around the globe including Brighton, Boston, New York, London, San Francisco, Berlin, Stuttgart, Paris, Sydney, Madrid and Singapore.

What’s your role inside the Brandwatch Team/organisation?
Bex Carson, Chief Product Officer at Brandwatch. I have been at Brandwatch for six years and worked my way up to becoming Chief Product Officer after a long stint in the strategy and insights team. I used my skills to build a global research team that had a lot of challenges – close collaboration, tight deadlines, customer needs, things changing at the 11th hour, the unruliness of social data tripping you up at the last minute, I have led the product team through great changes, from a merger of companies and technologies to the implementation of the new Digital Consumer Intelligence category that Brandwatch is aiming to lead.

What is your positioning? For the Martech Challenges, what business problems do you solve with your tool?
Brandwatch Consumer Research helps organizations find market opportunities and connect with consumer needs so they can compete in the digital era.

It brings structure and meaning to the voices of billions of people by combining the world’s largest archive of consumer opinions with AI technology to deliver insights that drive business decisions.

Brandwatch Features and product roadmap

Can you tell us about your different products and services? Which are Brandwatch Analytics main functionalities?
Brandwatch Digital Consumer Intelligence products deliver real-time insights about your industry, your brand and your marketing as well as reporting capabilities and system connections that scale with your company’s initiatives and projects. We combine Brand and Marketing Intelligence (Brandwatch Analytics, Crimson Forsight and soon to be released Consumer Research), Marketing intelligence (Brandwatch Audiences), Intelligent reporting (Vizia) and development with our API.

Brandwatch Analytics helps in a variety of use cases including Brand Management, Content Strategy, Competitor Analysis, Customer Experience, Influencer Marketing and Crisis management.

We also offer services like Education Services that help our users to become social data experts via on-demand training and courses and Research Services that can help answer key business questions by creating specific searches, highlighting insights in your data and recommending actions via visually engaging reports.

For the Martech Challenges, what is your killer feature?
We take great pride in building products and features that are rooted in being useful and fulfilling a clear purpose. An example of this is Iris, a personal AI analyst that automatically finds the insights in the data for you. It can detect peaks in historical data and contextualise what drove that peak.

Similar to Iris is our advanced Signals system making sure that you never miss a breaking story however big or small it may be. But let’s not forget our powerful filtering and segmentation capabilities that allows users to segment data into any categories relevant to their business using boolean rules to access the data they really need.

We will have even more to offer when the combined product of Brandwatch Analytics and Crimson Hexagon ForSight will be released in October 2019.

And at Brandwatch, it doesn’t end with the software, we want our customers to see us as partners on their consumer insights journey and with the combined experience of Brandwatch and Crimson’s customer services teams we’re ready to set our clients up for success.

For the Martech Challenges, can you tell us about your roadmap? What will your next features be?
As mentioned above, our next big moment will be in October 2019 when we launch our first version of the combined integrated product of Brandwatch Analytics and Crimson Hexagon ForSight: This new product will be called Brandwatch Consumer Research.

Brandwatch Consumer Research is a powerful integration of the industry’s two leading social listening platforms: Brandwatch Analytics and the Crimson Hexagon platform.

The near term roadmap is focused on this integration, which will be generally available on October 1, 2019, less than one year after the merger between the two companies. Brandwatch Consumer Research features 30 years of combined technology investment from both companies. Feature highlights include:

The world’s largest archive of consumer opinions.

  • Historical data index of 1.5 trillion posts dating back to 2008
  • The full firehose from Twitter, Reddit and Tumblr and premium data from LexisNexis and Sina Weibo
  • Proprietary data crawlers that are unique in the market, enabling new requested sources in 72 hours
  • The ability to upload custom, enterprise-held data sources


AI-powered insights

  • Brightview machine learning technology, a supervised training algorithm to quickly make sense of unstructured data at scale
  • Iris – the built-in AI Analyst that does the time-consuming work for you
  • Industry leading in-house image analysis powered by neural networks and deep learning trained on billions on images


Connected solutions that scale

  • Flexible user interface to suit any and all business needs from the casual user to the trained analyst
  • Actionable insights delivered across the organization with predictive alerts and intelligent reporting from Vizia
  • Enterprise-ready user management and permissioning


Brandwatch Services part

What are your onboarding processes and how do you measure them?
We have different onboarding journeys depending on the size and type of customer. We focus hard on collapsing the time to value and look to get data ‘in the hands’ of the customer during their initial Kick Off call. We also focus hard on ensuring that key information is collected during the KO call in terms of what success looks like to the customer in terms of what they need to have achieved in their first 7, 30 & 90 days with us (KPIs mapped, individuals trained, data built etc). This is recorded and acted upon.

Whilst we have a set path for onboarding depending on the customers’ organisation size, there is also a ‘custom’ model that can be tailored to the customers’ needs, which is typically reserved for large and complex implementations that are often global in nature. In these instances, a lot of the actual journey is defined by the customer in terms of what they want and need to achieve and by when. In these cases, we pride ourselves on having the ability to remain adaptable, agile and scalable so that we can meet and exceed our customers’ expectations – regardless of need.

We measure the onboarding process success by how closely we achieve the success markers agreed upon by both parties and once the initial markers are delivered, we use Quarterly Business Reviews to check upon current objectives to ensure we remain strategically aligned. We also survey our customers at various touchpoints to gauge how successful we have been and also so that we can act on feedback and look to drive positive change in our process design and ultimately our customer’s experience.

For the Martech Challenges, what can you tell us about your success stories?
We’ve had many, but what’s difficult about this question is choosing what to tell you as usage of our tools and data take so many forms. We have many success stories that you can discover on our website.

How do you support your customers?
Again, the answer to this depends on the type of customer and what team we deal with, but broadly speaking we support our customers in various ways including strategic engagements (ensuring the relationship is delivering quantified ROI over time), executive business reviews (reviewing strategic goals and objectives and establish new ones and/or providing recommendations when needed), Education, Services & Expertise with a team of 100+ customer success experts able to become an extension of our customer’s team, and also by connecting customers to the brandwatch product and leadership team to ensure their feedback is taken into account for product and service updates and/or introducing them to peers and like-minded Social Intelligence practitioners.

How do you help your clients about their data exploitation?
Everything we do is geared towards helping customers get the most out of our products, our services and ultimately the data we analyze. With the abundance of data that exists today, it really does depend on what problem the customer is trying to solve as to what help we need to give; it’s amazing what’s possible.

Our appetite for diversifying our data portfolio remains steadfast as we strive to bring on new sources and ultimately, new insights. Our strategy for this is largely driven by getting to know our customers and their needs and ultimately what data is most important to them.

In terms of deriving the most use from this data, it’s our products that are increasingly doing the heavy lifting for our customers, employing cutting edge machine learning and AI technologies as well as incredibly flexible UIs to ensure insights can be derived more easily than ever. From here, there are a number of ways in which these insights can flow through an organisation and Brandwatch can support in integrating, connecting and sharing data to meet even the most demanding of requirements.

Martech Challenges – Brandwatch Data and Vision of the future of Social Listening

Following the shutting down of the Instagram API, how to reassure your customers about the collection and the exploitation of the data from social media?
We believe that data compliance and privacy is of the utmost importance in our industry. We will not put our clients at risk of being non compliant or losing access to important data sources. Rather than forge ahead with product offerings where data terms are opaque, we seek answers from the social platforms directly and work closely with them on best practice.

What is your vision about the customer voice?
We help companies navigate this landscape with what we call Digital Consumer Intelligence. With it, our aim is to bring the voice of the consumer into decision making at scale and in real time so brands can compete in the digital era.

By harnessing consumer signals in real time and delivering consistent, actionable insights at the point of need, it empowers consumer-first organizations and accelerates growth.
Digital Consumer Intelligence combines digital, survey, social and first-party data sources with data science and AI so our customers can:

  • Find the signal in the noise
  • Bring market Research into the digital era
  • Understand market trends in real time


With such new tools in your toolbox to harness the complexities and opportunities in the digital era, companies can better understand consumers and market dynamics and stay competitive.

With which other tools can Brandwatch be plugged? For the Martech Challenges, can you tell us about your API management policy? 
The Brandwatch API (Application Programming Interface) allows you to take your Brandwatch data anywhere. That means pulling your Brandwatch data out of the platform and into other systems or products.

The API is well documented, and users can make use of Brandwatch’s wealth of data programmatically and securely.

The Brandwatch API uses a RESTful interface and provides HATEOAS links for internal navigation, making it simple and easy for a development team to use.

Using the API, in theory Brandwatch Analytics data could be integrated into any other platform that is compatible with the type of data Brandwatch outputs, including large scale data lakes and business intelligence stacks.

What is your vision about visual listening?
With the Crimson Hexagon merger, Brandwatch obtained the industry leading image analytics technology. Crimson Hexagon was first to market with logo recognition, and again first to market with the ability to recognize actions, scenes, and objects in visual content. This technology has been integrated into Brandwatch Analytics, and will also be integrated into Brandwatch Consumer Research ahead of the GA release.

Our image analysis technology is powered by conventional neural networks that mimic the way the human brain learns visual concepts. It uses deep learning to accurately identify and classify logos, objects, scenes, and actions. Trained on billions of images from the data archive, the system provides the industry’s most accurate results.

What is your vision about review ratings?
Our data coverage captures consumer reviews from top sites such as Amazon, Bestbuy, Walmart, Google, and TripAdvisor, extending back to January 2011.

In addition, many customers use our Content Upload feature to ingest their own enterprise-held ratings and reviews so they can analyze them side-by-side with other public online data in the data repository.

What is your vision about stories and ephemeral web?
We value our data partnerships, and maintain complete compliance with their rules for data access. Where the data providers give access to stories and ephemeral content, we collect it, store it in our archive, and make it available for analysis, in accordance with the provider’s rules.

How did you integrate the new legislation related to GDPR? How do you manage the privacy protection?
Privacy by Design aka Privacy Protection is one of the major items we implemented. We have an executive & board lead team that oversees all of our policy requirements. We have implemented a Privacy code of conduct that is observed across the company. In addition, we leverage third party validated research such as The Freedom Map by Freedom House to identify regions of conflict. We also work with our data partners to approve use cases from goverment / public sector entities to ensure compliance on a client by client basis.

The Brandwatch Group has a data protection officer responsible for privacy globally across all group companies. The Brandwatch Group has also distributed privacy compliance throughout the company, appointing privacy champions on its engineering, product, and people teams. These individuals are tasked with incorporating privacy by design principles when developing services for the Brandwatch Group. The Brandwatch Group also implements Privacy Impact Assessments, where required, in accordance with the GDPR.

The Brandwatch Group offers a variety of services, each of which require a different analysis under the GDPR.  HelioSight, ForSight, Analytics/Images, Audiences, and BuzzSumo (“Analytics Services”) Analytics Services are personal data agnostic. These Analytics Services are based on analyzing large sets of unstructured text data/images. This means that, while processing personal data is not the core point of the Analytics Services, it is likely that there is personal data in data that forms part of the Analytics Services. For example, some users on Twitter verify their account. Where a user’s account is verified, that user’s username and accompanying Tweets are personal data. Because of the difficulty in analyzing on a post-by-post basis whether information is personal data, the Brandwatch Group chooses to treat its entire database for its Analytics Services as if it contained all personal data.

The primary legal basis on which the Brandwatch Group processes personal data when performing the Analytics Services is the legitimate interests of the data controller. This legal basis requires a balancing of the legitimate interests of the data controller with the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection of personal data. The data that the Brandwatch Group processes from the Analytics Services is all publicly available – and made available – by the particular social media author him or herself. The Brandwatch Group therefore believes that the interests, fundamental rights and freedoms of data subjects are not prejudiced or overridden in the context of its processing of social media data that is (1) publicly available and (2) can be made private at anytime by the social media author him or herself. The social media authors have significant levels of control over the availability of their personal data on the underlying websites, including (e.g.) setting their Twitter account to private.

Besides winning the Martech Challenges 😉 which are your objectives for 2019/2020?
Our first priority for 2019 is to launch our new Brandwatch Consumer Research product, which is the first major release coming out of the merger between Brandwatch and Crimson Hexagon in late 2018. There are two major priorities for 2020; the first is to successfully migrate every existing customer onto the upgraded product, the second is to make meaningful strides to change the shape of market research by creating Digital Consumer Insights products that blend different sources of prompted and unprompted real-time, digital data. With the combined resources and extensive investment in our data and A.I. platform of Brandwatch and Crimson Hexagon, along with recent real time survey acquisition Qriously, we are uniquely placed to deliver a new kind of intelligence, and we’ll be leading this space throughout 2020 and beyond.

For the Martech Challenges, how do you see your market’s future?
The shape and scope of the market that Brandwatch serves has changed a lot since we began, and is still evolving rapidly. In the early days social data had utility mostly as a real time brand monitoring/crisis alerting system, then evolving into advertising/content and customer services. While still valuable for these use cases, I would argue that the greater value of unprompted, unstructured consumer opinion found on the web is the ability to tap into consumer consciousness at scale, with global consistency, in real time. Set against a context of fierce global competition from disruptive start-ups and a landscape of unprecedented consumer choice and control, the need for rapid testing of strategy and gathering of consumer feedback has never been higher. Our conviction is that the market of our future is Digital Consumer Intelligence; utilizing new technologies in data gathering plus our established and ever-growing archive of unprompted consumer options to enable brands to truly connect with their customer needs and use this to inform every part of their strategy.

Thank you Bex for answering our questions for the Martech Challenges.

Want to learn more about the Martech Challenges?


To go further

Martech-Challenges : Les Résultats ! (FR)

Martech-Challenges : Mieux comprendre le marché du Social Listening (FR)


Jonathan Charbit

Jonathan Charbit
Fondateur de Saas-Advisor

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