Unknown Customers

Each day, as a seemingly endless stream of social media data flows into the digital ocean, savvy companies are attempting to interpret these disorganized bits and bytes to make better business decisions. GraphDive is an enterprise social analytics and interest graphing company that helps ecommerce, media, and travel companies filter and decipher this data and, as a result, deliver personalized user recommendations.

The startup launched into private beta in early October, after nearly two years of developing its big data analytics engine. Today the company launches to the public, with new insights and several additional features derived from user input during the beta period.

GraphDive offers two related services based on its social data analysis technology. The first is “micro” personalization and targeting according to interest and inferred demographic data including age, education, and marital status. Micro targeting enables companies to deliver interest-based recommendations to potential customers with absent or insufficient purchase history – something even Amazon doesn’t currently do. The result, theoretically, is that consumers purchase earlier in their life cycle and are more satisfied in doing so based on the personally tailored experience.

So what sets GraphDive apart from the countless other social analytics companies. True semantic analysis and a focus on commerce. Unlike other tools which rely on a user’s explicitly stated interests and personal demographic info – and which are very often false or incomplete – GraphDive uses semantic algorithms to infer (aka, guess) this information. In the case of age, the technology has been proven to be over 90 percent accurate, a dramatic increase over Facebook’s own user-provided age-related data, says co-founder and CEO Shahram Seyedin-Noor. As a more abstract example, GraphDive can identify a consumer’s affinity for Latin music even when they haven’t officially listed it as an interest on Facebook. The company does so through interpreting the artist pages they follow, the music videos they post to their wall, the comments they write, and the songs they listen to on Spotify (assuming all that data is shared publicly).

Secondly, GraphDive offers “macro” user insights and segmentation based on the same technology. As a result, companies can gain a broad understanding of their existing audience and then direct tailored marketing initiatives to specific subsets of that audience. This feature was directly inspired by the company’s beta users, and built from scratch within the last two months.

Alongside the public launch, GraphDive is also announcing an integration with the popular Magento ecommerce platform that will enable the 125,000 Magento-based websites to utilize its “macro” product to better understand and market to their users. A similar integration for the “micro” product is coming shortly, according to Seyedin-Noor. The CEO believes that GraphDive is the first social analytics solution available Magento users.

GraphDive’s founders hold as a point of pride the extent of their company’s accomplishments on far less funding than most other knowledge and interest graph companies. The startup deliberately raised just $1 million to date from Crosslink Capital, Correlation Ventures, and several angels investors including early dropbox investor Pejman Nozad. Despite being available to the public, the company is still finalizing its pricing model, with two types structures currently available. Companies can sign up for an “all you can eat” monthly subscription, or can purchase a plan priced on a per Facebook connected user per year basis. The exact price points for each of these structures is currently being finalized.

The company has yet to address one potential shortfall that I mentioned when covering the product’s beta launch two months ago. (Seyedin-Noor told me at the time to expect a solution in the near future.) I wrote at the time:

“…it does not yet provide directional sentiment analysis, or in other words it can only tell if a user talks about Lebron James a lot, not whether he loves or hates him. GraphDive’s founders will argue that what’s most important is that the user is passionate about the topic, but in plenty of instances this distinction would be valuable to businesses.”

An interesting struggle is taking place between consumers and businesses in the social media arena. Consumers generally resist being tracked and targeted, yet similarly complain about irrelevant and non-value added ads. GraphDive seems to offer a compelling solution to the latter problem by allowing companies to deliver products and offers that are likely to delight its consumers. As Gravity, a similar interest graphing company in the content discovery sector discovered, whether they know or would willingly admit as much, stats demonstrate that users prefer a personalized experience.

It will likely take some time for the average web user to come around to the idea of advertisers that more about their likes and interest than many of their real-world friends. But this is inevitably where the digital world is heading. Services like GraphDive are creating powerful tools to at least make this new reality a productive and beneficial one for both companies and consumers alike.