Cohan Carlos is a researcher working in the field of natural language processing. He heads a research lab in Bangalore called Aiaioo Labs. That is, Aiaioo pronounced as ‘ayyayyoo’. The researchers at Aiaioo Labs work on developing Artificially Intelligent software systems. Their marketing tools Selasdia and ReshareGroups are both the products of work done at Aiaioo Labs.
Digital Vidya: How did you get into Digital Marketing?
Cohan: In 2011 we were studying ways of understanding social media messages. At the time, social media messages were mostly analyzed using a technique called sentiment analysis which gave brands an idea of how favorably their customers viewed them. But we found when we looked closely at what customers were saying about brands on social media that they often expressed a lot more than sentiment. Customers were revealing how desirable a brand was (how badly they wanted to buy something connected with a brand). They were revealing how much interest a new brand initiative was generating (how many questions people were asking about it). They were also revealing what the alternatives to a new product might be. So we developed a technology called intention analysis (and we were one of the first firms in the world to do so) that could analyze social media messages and determine if it was about an inquiry, or an intent to purchase something. We felt that intention analysis might help marketing teams. It was when we turned to studying marketing teams, that we got into digital marketing. We were initially just talking to marketers to test out a hypotheses. But then, we found that there were unexplored frontiers in marketing, and that it was a very interesting problem, mathematically, and we have been studying and working in digital marketing ever since.
Digital Vidya: Why do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs, marketing professionals and students to learn Digital Marketing today?
Cohan: Digital channels are an extremely important way of reaching customers in India today because of the rapid growth in internet penetration in the country. The number of internet users in India was 190 million in June 2014 and projected to cross 300 million by December 2014 and 350 million by June 2015. This would make India the world’s second-largest internet market (ahead of the USA which has about 279 million internet users, but behind China with about 600 million internet users). There’s also high social media penetration. Indians are the second largest group of Facebook users in the world (behind the USA) and more than a 100 million Indians are expected to access Facebook on their mobile phones this year. So, it’s important that marketing professionals learn how to reach customers through digital channels in addition to traditional media channels (print, television, etc).
Digital Vidya: You led ‘David vs Goliath: Pick the Right Marketing Strategy and Tools’ Webinar for Digital Vidya’s community. How was your experience in leading the Webinar?
Cohan: We brought together a number of tools vendors and discussed how their tools might solve marketing problems. It was great to speak about the newest developments in the field.
Digital Vidya: Please share top 5-7 takeaways from the Webinar you would like to share with our community.
Cohan: We looked at tools and digital marketing channels that would be appropriate for different types of firms. For example, most firms that are in the B2C space can use search engine marketing effectively, because almost anyone who searches for a keyword connected to the products they sell is a potential customer.
Once you move into the B2B space, however, that is no longer the case. B2B purchases are made by a very small number of people in specific roles in a firm, so targeting these prospective buyers becomes a lot more difficult. So, under certain circumstances, search engine marketing can become less cost effective for B2B marketing than other strategies, say social media marketing.
When social media marketing to job roles or through retargeting is done right, it can become a powerful tool for B2B marketing. We also talked about the importance of content marketing, and also showed that it is a necessary technique, but not a sufficient one for use in some competitive positions.
Digital Vidya: Would you like to share few words about the work we are doing at Digital Vidya?
Digital marketing is a rather vast field today, and there is a need for a place to learn to do it right.