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Tag: Data

Tips (based on data!) to Manage Amazon Campaigns During Turbulent Times

September 19, 2020 No Comments

During turbulent times, retailers should follow these tips to plan and manage advertising budgets on Amazon in a more targeted and successful manner.

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InCountry raises $18M more to help SaaS companies store data locally

September 1, 2020 No Comments

We’re seeing a gradual expansion of national regulations that require data from SaaS applications to be stored locally, in the country where it’s sourced and used. Today a startup that’s built a service around that need — specifically, data residency-as-a-service — is announcing some funding to continue building out its company amid strong demand.

InCountry, which provides a set of solutions — comprising software as well as some consultancy — that helps companies comply with local regulations when adopting SaaS products, has raised $ 18 million in funding.

This is technically an extension to its Series A, but in keeping with the growth of its business, it comes with a big bump to its valuation: the startup is now valued at “north” of $ 150 million. Founder and CEO Peter Yared said this is more than double the valuation in its previous round a little over a year ago

The money is coming from a mix of strategic and financial investors. It’s being led by by Caffeinated Capital and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala, with participation from new investor Accenture Ventures and previous investors Arbor Ventures, Felicis, Ridge Ventures, Bloomberg Beta, and Team Builder Ventures. Accenture is one of InCountry’s key channel partners, reselling the software as part of bigger data management and integration contracts, Yared tells me.

The company has seen a decent bump in its business in the last year, expanding to 90 countries from 65 where it provides guidance and services to store and use data in compliance with legal requirements. Alongside that it has an increasingly long list of software packages that it covers with its products. The list currently includes Salesforce, ServiceNow, Twilio, Mambu and Segment, with customers including a large list of enterprises including stock exchanges, banks, and pharmaceutical companies.

“This company was based off a crazy thesis,” Yared said with an almost incredulous laugh (he has a very jocular way of talking, even when he’s being serious). “Now it’s 20 months old, and our customers are banks, pharma giants, stock exchanges. We are proud that large institutions can trust us.”

A big bump in its business in recent times has been in Asia Pacific and the Middle East, which are two main regions when it comes to data residency regulations and therefore ripe ground for winning new customers — one reason why Mubadala is part of this round, Yared said.

“At Mubadala we are committed to backing visionary founders whose innovations fuel economies,” said Ibrahim Ajami, Head of Ventures at Mubadala Capital. “Since day one, InCountry’s cloud solution has addressed a massive challenge in this era of regulation by giving businesses the tools to grow internationally while remaining compliant with data residency regulations. We’re doubling down on our investment and are supporting InCountry’s expansion into the MENA region because we believe they are the best team to help drive global business forward.”

Partly due to the growing ubiquity, flexibility and relatively cheap cost of cloud computing, software as a service  has been on a fast growth trajectory for years now. But even within that trend, it has had a huge boost in 2020, as a result of the global health pandemic.

COVID-19 has given the need for remote computing, and being able to access data wherever you happen to be — which in many cases today is no longer in your usual office space — and on top of that we have a lot more “wiggle room” in business, with organizations quickly scaling up and down with demand.

The knock on effect has been a big boost for SaaS. But that growth has come with some caveats, and one of the biggest alongside security has been around data protection, and specifically national requirements in how data is stored and used. Arguably, SaaS companies have been more concerned with scaling their software and business funnels than they have been with how data is handled and how that has changed in keeping with local regulations, and that’s the opportunity that InCountry has stepped in to fill.

It provides not just a set of software to store and handle data in a secure way, but also an extensive list of legal advisors with expertise at the local level to help companies get their data policies in order. It’s an interesting model: while InCountry’s been an early mover in identifying this market opportunity and building technology to address it, it’s buffered its competitive position not with a sole focus on technology, but an extensive amount of human capital to get each implementation right.

That can prove to be a costly thing to get wrong. In the EU in July, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) put down the EU-US Privacy Shield — a framework that let businesses transfer personal data between the European Union and the United States while ensuring compliance with data protection regulations. This has impacted some 5,000 companies, which now have to rethink how they handle their data. The fine for not complying with storing data locally means that they can be fined up to 4% of their revenues.

Yared tells me that for now, the main competitor to something like InCountry has been companies building their own policies in house. Some of those solutions would have been done completely in house and some in partnership with integrators, but all of them were hard to scale and were painful to maintain, one reason why companies and their business partners are turning to working with his startup.

“Accenture Ventures is pleased to support InCountry as it continues to expand globally,” said Tom Lounibos, Managing Director, Accenture Ventures, in a statement. “InCountry’s software solutions are helping companies address the critical issue of becoming and remaining compliant with a multitude of data residency laws. This expansion will help support enterprises as they unlock their business across borders.”


Enterprise – TechCrunch


New Zendesk dashboard delivers customer service data in real time

August 25, 2020 No Comments

Zendesk has been offering customers the ability to track customer service statistics for some time, but it has always been a look back. Today, the company announced a new product called Explore Enterprise that lets customers capture that valuable info in real time, and share it with anyone in the organization, whether they have a Zendesk license or not.

While it has had Explore in place for a couple of years now, Jon Aniano, senior VP of product at Zendesk says the new enterprise product is in response to growing customer data requirements. “We now have a way to deliver what we call Live Team Dashboards, which delivers real time analytics directly to Zendesk users,” Aniano told TechCrunch.

In the days before COVID that meant displaying these on big monitors throughout the customer service center. Today, as we deal with the pandemic, and customer service reps are just as likely to be working from home, it means giving management the tools they need to understand what’s happening in real time, a growing requirement for Zendesk customers as they scale, regardless of the pandemic.

“What we’ve found over the last few years is that our customers’ appetite for operational analytics is insatiable, and as customers grow, as customer service needs get more complex, the demands on a contact center operator or customer service team are higher and higher, and teams really need new sets of tools and new types of capabilities to meet what they’re trying to do in delivering customer service at scale in the world,” Aniano told TechCrunch.

One of the reasons for this is the shift from phone and email as the primary ways of accessing customer service to messaging tools like WhatsApp. “With the shift to messaging, there are new demands on contact centers to be able to handle real-time interactions at scale with their customers,” he said.

And in order to meet that kind of demand, it requires real-time analytics that Zendesk is providing with this announcement. This arms managers with the data they need to put their customer service resources where they are needed most in the moment in real time.

But Zendesk is also giving customers the ability to share these statistics with anyone in the company. “Users can share a dashboard or historical report with anybody in the company regardless of whether they have access to Zendesk. They can share it in Slack, or they can embed a dashboard anywhere where other people in the company would like to have access to those metrics,” Aniano explained.

The new service will be available starting on August 31st for $ 29 per user per month.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Data Studio Tips Part 2: Intermediate

August 11, 2020 No Comments

Google’s Data Studio is a great tool for visualization and reporting, but it comes with its own learning curve. This post covers tips for intermediate users.

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TikTok announces first data center in Europe

August 6, 2020 No Comments

TikTok, the Chinese video sharing app that’s found itself at the center of a geopolitical power struggle which threatens to put hard limits on its global growth this year, said today it will build its first data center in Europe.

The announcement of a TikTok data center in the EU also follows a landmark ruling by Europe’s top court last month that put international data transfers in the spotlight, dialling up the legal risk around processing data outside the bloc.

TikTok said the forthcoming data center, which will be located in Ireland, will store the data of its European users once it’s up and running (which is expected by early 2022) — with a slated investment into the country of around €420M (~$ 497M), according to a blog post penned by global CISO, Roland Cloutier.

“This investment in Ireland… will create hundreds of new jobs and play a key role in further strengthening the safeguarding and protection of TikTok user data, with a state of the art physical and network security defense system planned around this new operation,” Cloutier wrote, adding that the regional data centre will have the added boon for European users of faster load times, improving the overall experience of using the app.

The social media app does not break out regional users — but a leaked ad deck suggested it had 17M+ MAUs in Europe at the start of last year.

The flipside of TikTok’s rise to hot social media app beloved of teens everywhere has been earning itself the ire of US president Trump — who earlier this month threatened to use executive powers to ban TikTok in the US unless it sells its US business to an American company. (Microsoft is in the frame as a buyer.)

Whether Trump has the power to block TikTok’s app is debatable. Tech savvy teenagers will surely deploy all their smarts to get around any geoblocks. But operational disruption looks inevitable — and that has been forcing TikTok to make a series of strategic tweaks in a bid to limit damage and/or avoid the very worst outcomes.

Since taking office the US president has shown himself willing to make international business extremely difficult for Chinese tech firms. In the case of mobile device and network kit maker, Huawei, Trump has limited domestic use of its tech and leant on allies to lock it out of their 5G networks (with some success) — citing national security concerns from links to the Chinese Communist Party.

His beef with TikTok is the same stated national security concerns, centered on its access to user data. (Though Trump may have his own personal reasons to dislike the app.)

TikTok, like every major social media app, gathers huge amounts of user data — which its privacy policy specifies it may share user data with third parties, including to fulfil “government inquiries”. So while its appetite for personal data looks much the same as US social media giants (like Facebook) its parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance, is subject to China’s Internet Security Law — which since 2017 has given the Chinese Chinese Communist Party sweeping powers to obtain data from digital companies. And while the US has its own intrusive digital surveillance laws, the existence of a Chinese mirror of the US state-linked data industrial complex has put tech firms right at the heart of geopolitics.

TikTok has been taking steps to try to insulate its international business from US-fuelled security concerns — and also provide some incentives to Trump for not quashing it — hiring Disney executive Kevin Mayer on as CEO of TikTok and COO of ByteDance in May, and promising to create 10,000 jobs in the U.S., as well as claiming US user data is stored in the US.

In parallel it’s been reconfiguring how it operates in Europe, setting up an EMEA Trust and Safety Hub in Dublin, Ireland at the start of this year and building out its team on the ground. In June it also updated its regional terms of service — naming its Irish subsidiary as the local data controller alongside its UK entity, meaning European users’ data no longer falls under its US entity, TikTok Inc.

This reflects distinct rules around personal data which apply across the European Union and European Economic Area. So while European political leaders have not been actively attacking TikTok in the same way as Trump, the company still faces increased legal risk in the region.

Last month CJEU judges made it clear that data transfers to third countries can only be legal if EU users’ data is not being put at risk by problematic surveillance laws and practices. The CJEU ruling (aka ‘Schrems II’) means data processing in countries such as China and India — and, indeed, the US — are now firmly in the risk frame where EU data protection law is concerned.

One way of avoiding this risk is to process European users’ data locally. So TikTok opening a data center in Ireland may also be a response to Schrems II — in that it will offer a way for it to ensure it can comply with requirements flowing from the ruling.

Privacy commentators have suggested the CJEU decision may accelerate data localization efforts — a trend that’s also being seen in countries such as China and Russia (and, under Trump, the US too it seems).

EU data watchdogs have also warned there will be no grace period following the CJEU invalidating the US-EU Privacy Shield data transfer mechanism. While those using other still valid tools for international transfers are bound to carry out an assessment — and either suspend data flows if they identify risks or inform a supervisor that the data is still flowing (which could in turn trigger an investigation).

The EU’s data protection framework, GDPR, bakes in stiff penalties for violations — with fines that can hit 4% of a company’s global annual turnover. So the business risk around EU data protection is no longer small, even as wider geopolitical risks are upping the uncertainty for global Internet players.

“Protecting our community’s privacy and data is and will continue to be our priority,” TikTok’s CISO writes, adding: “Today’s announcement is just the latest part of our ongoing work to enhance our global capability and efforts to protect our users and the TikTok community.”


Social – TechCrunch


Data Studio Tips Part 1: Beginner

August 5, 2020 No Comments

Google’s Data Studio is a great tool for reporting, but it comes with its own learning curve. This post contains 3 data studio tips for beginners.

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Rippling nabs $145M at a $1.35B valuation to build out its all-in-one platform for employee data

August 4, 2020 No Comments

Big news today in the world of enterprise IT startups. Rippling, the startup founded by Parker Conrad to take on the ambitious challenge of building a platform to manage all aspects of employee data, from payroll and benefits through to device management, has closed $ 145 million in funding — a monster Series B that catapults the company to a valuation of $ 1.35 billion.

Parker Conrad, the CEO who co-founded the company with Prasanna Sankar (the CTO), said in an interview that the plan will be to use the money to continue its own in-house product development (that is, bringing more tools into the Rippling mix organically, not by way of acquisition) but also to have it just in case, given everything else going on at the moment.

“We will double down on R&D but to be honest we’re trying not to change the formula too much,” Conrad said. “We want to have that discipline. This fundraising was opportunistic amid the larger macroeconomic risk at the moment. I was working at startups in 2008-2009 and the funding markets are strong right now, all things considered, and so we wanted to make sure we had the stockpile we needed in case things went bad.”

This latest round included Greenoaks Capital, Coatue Management, and Bedrock Capital, as well as existing investors including Kleiner Perkins, Initialized Capital, and Y Combinator. Founders Fund partner Napoleon Ta will join Rippling’s board of directors. Founders Fund had also backed Zenefits when Parker was at the helm, and from what we understand this round was oversubscribed — also a big feat in the current market, working against a lot of factors including a wobbling economy.

It is a big leap for the company: it was just a little over a year ago that it raised a Series A of $ 45 million at a valuation of $ 270 million.

This latest round is notable for a few reasons.

First is the business itself. HR and employee management software are two major areas of IT that have faced a lot of fragmentation over the years, with many businesses opting for a cocktail of services covering disparate areas like employee onboarding, payroll, benefits, device management, app provisioning and permissions and more. That’s been even more the case among smaller organizations in the 2-1,000 employee range that Rippling targets.

Rippling is approaching that bigger challenge as one that can be tackled by a single platform — the theory being that managing HR employee data is essentially part and parcel of good management of IT data permissions and device provision. This funding is a signal of how both investors and customers are buying into Rippling and its approach, even if right now the majority of customers don’t onboard with the full suite of services. (Some 75% are usually signing up with HR products, Conrad noted.)

“We like to think of ourselves as a Salesforce for employee data,” Conrad said, “and by that, we think that employee data is more than just HR. We want to manage access to all of your third party business apps, your computer and other devices. It’s when you combine all that that you can manage employees well.”

The company is gradually adding in more tools. Most recently, it’s been launching new tools to help with job costing, helping companies track where employees are spending time when working on different projects, a tool critical for IT, accounting and other companies where employees work across a number of clients.

Second is the founder. You might recall that Conrad was ousted from his previous company, Zenefits (taking on a related, but smaller, challenge in payroll and benefits), over a controversy linked to compliance issues and also misleading investors. But if Zenefits was finished with Conrad, Conrad was not finished with Zenefits — or at least the problem it was tackling. This funding is a testament to how investors are putting a big bet on Conrad himself, who says that a lot of what he has been building at Rippling was what he would have done at Zenefits if he’d stayed there.

“Once you’re lucky, twice you’re good,” said Mamoon Hamid, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, in a separate statement. “Parker is a true product visionary, and he and his team are solving an enormous pain point for businesses everywhere. We’re thrilled to continue partnering with Rippling as demand for their platform dramatically increases in this era of remote work.”

“Rippling is not just a superior payroll company, but something much broader: they’ve built the system of record for all employee data, creating an entirely new software category. Rippling’s massive market opportunity is to streamline the employee lifecycle, from software to payroll to benefits, and fundamentally improve the way businesses hire and manage their employees,” said Ta in a statement.

Third is the context in which this round is coming. We’re in the midst of an economic downturn caused in part by a global health pandemic, and that’s leading to a lot of companies curtailing budgets, reducing headcount, and potentially shutting down altogether. Ironically, that force is also propelling companies like Rippling full steam ahead.

Its SaaS model — priced at a flat $ 8 per person per month — not only fits with how many businesses are being run at the moment (primarily remotely), but Rippling’s purpose is specifically geared to helping businesses both onboard and offboard customers more efficiently, the kind of software that companies need to have in place to fit how they are working right now.

Updated with commentary from an interview with Conrad.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


10 Reasons why marketers use data to make budgeting decisions

July 28, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Bear in mind that no marketing strategy has ever succeeded without the complex mix of data analysis and smart budgeting decisions.
  • Marketers face the tough challenge of data-driven decision-making to craft the most profitable and effective marketing plan possible.  
  • Budgeting is a crucial part of any marketing strategy.
  • Because of the growing benefits of using big data to bolster marketing strategies, expenses spent on analytics are expected to climb 200% over the next three years.
  • Here’s a quick look at 10 ways that enable you to use data for crafting profitable marketing plans. 

Creating a marketing strategy isn’t just about rolling out advertisements— marketing has evolved with the times. No longer are businesses confined to print and radio advertising, but they now also have a multitude of online options to choose from, like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, paid search, and paid social marketing. 

Bear in mind that no marketing strategy has ever succeeded without the complex mix of data analysis and smart budgeting decisionsMarketers can use data to identify problems or issues in campaigns and budgeting. Data are also a fundamental factor in understanding SEO, developing software, and interpreting customer feedback, among other aspects of online marketing.  

Data complexity is one of the biggest challenges for marketers right now. Marketers face the tough challenge of data-driven decision-making to craft the most profitable and effective marketing plan possible.  

Planning ahead: Budgeting in the context of marketing strategies 

What makes a successful marketing campaign lies in the money it reels in for the company. You can tell that your promotional strategies are working when traffic and direct sales are rising. This can be determined by your return on investment (ROI), that is, when the money you invested returns a profit. 

This is why budgeting is a key element of any marketing strategy. No successful business sets goals without first considering if they can afford to take them on. Whether you’re a start-up or a long-time business, your current budget influences your future financial goals and gains.  

Learning how to wisely allocate your resources can both save and earn you a lot of money. Businesses that don’t consider their budget when crafting a marketing plan may find themselves in over their heads, spending too much on unnecessary things without getting the necessary kickback. Businesses may also end up in debt and with lower customer satisfaction if they fail to plan their budget smartly.  

Using data to cash in on your investments 

One way to plan your marketing budget wisely is to base it on data. A data-driven approach to crafting marketing strategies can help you make smarter budgeting decisions 

Because of the growing benefits of using big data to bolster marketing strategies, expenses spent on analytics are expected to climb 200% over the next three years. Marketers can use a wide array of information to create suitable marketing and budgeting plans. This includes data analysis about their audience, competitors, and their own past business efforts. 

All these data-crunching can seem daunting at first, but there are simple ways to explain how using data can help you make better marketing and budgeting decisions. The 10 tips below will teach you how to use data to craft a profitable marketing plan: 

1. Identify your financial goals 

First, set your financial goals, both long-term and short-term. How much revenue do you want and how many sales would it take to reach it? How do these objectives tie in with your brand vision and values? Although a good measure of business success is profit, don’t forget to stay grounded in your company’s mission and your consumers’ needs. 

To identify your financial goals, look back at your previous short-term and long-term goals and how much of these you have achieved. Also, take into consideration your current financial standing before making any grand projections of your business in the future. 

2. Refer to your sales funnel 

Knowing where your consumers stand is a fundamental part of marketing strategies. This refers to a sales funnel, a series of steps someone has to make to purchase your product. An example of this would be asking yourself how much money you spend on acquiring new customers and if your efforts pay off. 

You can use analytics software to set up funnels that show the process that your audience goes through before deciding to buy your product. This can help you prioritize your budgeting decisions to focus on boosting conversion rates.

3. Review past campaigns 

Using analytics, you can also review past marketing or SEO campaigns to see where you succeeded and failed. An example of this is comparing data from your various modes of advertising. This can help you see what’s most effective, in terms of reach and conversion.  

4. Check out the competition 

You can also use data on your competitors to find out what marketing strategy is most profitable in your industry. Check out your competition’s advertising methods, and investigate how much they invest in certain areas. This can help influence your own budgeting planning process, in terms of focusing on what works for your industry. 

5. List down your projected costs 

When setting a marketing budget, you need to outline your projected operational costs. Data on previous expenditures and present prices of services like web hosting, professional fees, ad pricing are crucial to correctly calculating your projected costs.  

6. Set an achievable schedule 

One aspect of creating a marketing strategy is setting an achievable timeline. The amount of time you will spend developing a campaign can also influence the budget planning process. Generally, the less time you spend, the less money you’ll spend too; an overdue project is likely to go over the budget.  

Ensure that when scheduling, you’re giving enough leeway for your team to prioritize important aspects of the campaign and respond to unexpected situations. You can use information from past marketing plans (that is, resource availability vis-a-vis the time needed to complete planning), to determine how much time you usually spend. Then base your new timeline on this, considering new factors, if any. 

7. Use scenario-building tools

If you’re daunted by the amount of data you have to consolidate and interpret when budgeting, you can use scenario-building tools to run multiple budget scenarios. Scenario-building tools will show you various virtual spending situations that can assist you in your real-life budget planning process. 

Using this data-driven approach to budgeting, you’ll be sure to make better budgeting decisions with regard to choosing the best budget scenario that will drive maximum ROI. 

8. Focus on the right platforms

Speaking of what works in your industry, make sure you’re investing in the right platforms. The proper platform depends on the product you offer and the market you cater to. What marketing strategy reels in the most conversion or leads for your business? Is it e-mail marketing or is it social media and PPC? 

For example, collecting data regarding social media use, that is, who uses which platform, how much time they spend on a specific site, and other sorts of granular data can help you determine where to place your advertisements. Promoting on a website that your market regularly visits turns a bigger profit than on platforms irrelevant to your consumers. 

9. Consider predictive analytics

You can also utilize the power of predictive analytics which uses historical data and machine learning to foresee your brand’s future performance. It sounds complicated, but you can actually use analytics tools to help you make sense of the vast amounts of data.  

Based on your own historical data, predictive analytics can help you detect future business and security risks, optimize campaigns, and improve budgeting decisions 

10. Measure your performance regularly 

Aside from trying to predict your brand’s performance, you can also use analytics to tell how your users are currently responding to your campaign. Using social media analytics and social media listening, you’ll be able to see how your audience perceives your brand. This information can help you optimize your campaign to respond to user feedback and reach your target goals. 

A data-driven approach to budgeting decisions can help propel your business forward by utilizing the best mix of resource allocation to drive maximum ROI. Don’t let the complexity of data analysis and analytics scare you into thinking that they’re too hard to understand and analyze. In a world where data is considered as the next oil by business leaders, you’ll be glad to have analytics in your arsenal. 

The post 10 Reasons why marketers use data to make budgeting decisions appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Fivetran snares $100M Series C on $1.2B valuation for data connectivity solution

June 30, 2020 No Comments

A big problem for companies these days is finding ways to connect to various data sources to their data repositories, and Fivetran is a startup with a solution to solve that very problem. No surprise then that even during a pandemic, the company announced today that it has raised $ 100 million Series C on a $ 1.2 billion valuation.

The company didn’t mess around with top flight firms Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst leading the investment with participation from existing investors CEAS Investments and Matrix Partners. Today’s money brings the total raised so far to $ 163 million, according to the company.

Martin Cassado from a16z described the company succinctly in a blog post he wrote after its $ 44 million Series B in September 2019, which his firm also participated in. “Fivetran is a SaaS service that connects to the critical data sources in an organization, pulls and processes all the data, and then dumps it into a warehouse (e.g., Snowflake, BigQuery or RedShift) for SQL access and further transformations, if needed. If data is the new oil, then Fivetran is the pipes that get it from the source to the refinery,” he wrote.

Writing in a blog post today announcing the new funding, CEO George Fraser added that in spite of current conditions, the company has continued to add customers. “Despite recent economic uncertainty, Fivetran has continued to grow rapidly as customers see the opportunity to reduce their total cost of ownership by adopting our product in place of highly customized, in-house ETL pipelines that require constant maintenance,” he wrote.

In fact, the company reports 75% customer growth over the prior 12 months. It now has over 1100 customers, which is a pretty good benchmark for a Series C company. Customers include Databricks, DocuSign, Forever 21, Square, Udacity and Urban Outfitters, crossing a variety of verticals.

Fivetran hopes to continue to build new data connectors as it expands the reach of its product and to push into new markets, even in the midst of today’s economic climate. With $ 100 million in the bank, it should have enough runway to ride this out, while expanding where it makes sense.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


How Data Science Can Improve PPC Performance

May 23, 2020 No Comments

This will look at the concept of data science, the tools and knowledge you need to make it work, some common PPC issues, and how data science can help fix them.

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