By adaptive - April 27th, 2015
Companies keen to “eavesdrop” on social media and discover what is trending at a certain time and place may want to reach for their Banjo.
No, not the instrument synonymous with Bluegrass music; rather the eponymous app that is handy for users and is only beginning to tap into its enterprise potential. Banjo’s founder and CEO, Damien Patten, exclusively discussed the company’s ability to harness social media and his vision with OMM’s Robert Gray.
OMM: For the uninitiated, how do you describe in your own words what Banjo does?
Patton: Banjo instantly organizes the world’s social and digital signals by location, giving an unprecedented level of understanding of what’s happening anywhere in the world, in real time. We’ve mapped the entire planet - every square inch - and we constantly measure the live digital signals at every location. Banjo's technology knows what normal looks like anywhere, regardless of time of day or season of the year. Because we instantly process signals organized by location, we can detect when "normal" has been disrupted and an event is recorded, showing anything from breaking news to sports and concerts to conventions.
OMM: You’ve attacked the social connection in a different way from others. Instead of saying I’m here, or I like this, Banjo offers a way to find out who else is here, or a different way of finding out what’s happening somewhere else and who is there…or even what was happening just before and as an event unfolds.
How did you solve this problem that people didn’t realize they had until maybe realizing, as you did, that you missed an old friend who was in the airport at the same time as you?
Patton: Well, I was frustrated that there wasn’t really a way to “connect the dots” between all these different social networks beaming me information. I was really thinking that with today’s technology, we shouldn’t have to miss anything and that there has to be some way I could combine geolocation technology with the storytelling power of all major social networks.
With Banjo, we’ve done this, bringing together massive amounts of unstructured data in real time and making sense of what is happening anywhere in the world.
OMM: What are you going to do with this information? It’s clearly useful for direct marketing and advertising.
Clearly, on a local level a shop would like to know you’re there and have someone engaged with a brand on a social level but I’d imagine the social graph you pull would be highly valuable to companies looking at geographies for feedback on campaigns/sales/popularity, reactions to movie premieres, new clothes, comments on products, etc. Is Banjo working with companies on both levels?
Patton: Yes we can do all of those things, and we actually go beyond this as well. For example, we powered Bud Light’s “House of Whatever” event during this year’s Super Bowl. Using Banjo, Bud Light captured all the social content coming from their event, with no reliance on hashtags or keywords. They then leveraged the content in real-time across numerous mediums including their own website, site takeovers like ESPN, and even paid promotion across social networks. Bud Light was able to both monitor the ROI generated by the campaign, as well as identify new social content which could be used to improve customer engagement and advertising. Remember, pretty much every brand wants to talk to their customers in a genuine way — particularly millennials - and Bud Light used Banjo to let their millennial advocates curate and tell their story for them. User-generated social content is the key to unlocking this powerful next wave of advertising and interaction.
OMM: Which apps does Banjo work with now?
Patton: We work with pretty much every major social network in the world: from the ones you know here in the US like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to international networks you may know less about like Vkontakte and Weibo.
OMM: What feedback do you get from these other social networks? What do they think about Banjo aggregating their results?
Patton: They love it. When we talk to them, they are very happy that we’re finding ways to use their content to power real-world action. Basically, we’re helping to prove that social media is more than just a place where people post what they ate for lunch — this data can be used to power whole economies, improve existing products, power new ones and all around just help us as human beings, make better decisions.
OMM: Is there any competition for you at the moment?
Patton: There are other companies in the space promising “actionable signals” from social, but we do things very differently and go far beyond their offerings.
Other companies rely on keywords, but we’ve broken news and identified events without keywords or any accompanying information because we have advanced photo and video recognition as well as geo-location capabilities. This makes for a much more accurate story and our ability to geo-search social media is invaluable.
OMM: How will Banjo integrate with wearables and what are your plans for the connected car? It would seem to be useful to integrate with traffic apps or live feeds from “smart” infrastructure at some point.
Patton: Think of Banjo like electricity, it is the current that powers “light bulbs” for many industries. Businesses will build the light bulbs (tools) using the power that Banjo provides. For example, imagine if instead of just getting an alert on a traffic app to deviate your path due to an accident, you were instantly shown an image of the accident. You could make your own decision to stay the course or to change navigation. Banjo’s real time data puts humans back in control of their destiny.
OMM: Is Banjo a natural evolution of social mobile/discovery as people think more visually, seeking pictures, video content such as reviews, photo shares, previews, infographics?
Patton: In many ways, yes. As social and mobile have evolved, people are not only more connected, but they’re looking to virtually witness the world through their devices. Unlike reading a newspaper article 15 years ago, people now expect to see high quality photos of an event, videos and interviews with people at the scene, real-time commentary from those involved, and instant updates. That illustrates why I think of social as the new “energy source” of our time. However, we haven’t yet had a grid to organize, analyze and harness this energy to make companies smarter, faster and more innovative. That’s what Banjo is doing.
OMM: What’s the next step for Banjo?
Patton: We’re going beyond social signals. We’ve already incorporated national weather data, and more is coming. Our vision is to add every major source of real-time data in the world to deliver the most useful information before you know you need it. Banjo is also a powerful platform that people can build on, so in time, we could be powering tools and insights that no one is even thinking of yet.