MarTech Interview with Wendy Gonzalez, CEO at Sama

Wendy Gonzalez, CEO at Sama shares her observations on the impact of influencer marketing while highlighting the importance of driving marketing efficiencies with AI in this chat:


Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Wendy, tell us more about Sama? 

Hi Paroma, thanks for having me! Sama is an AI training data provider for the world’s leading companies such as Google, Walmart, and NVIDIA. Beyond providing accurate training data to fuel these companies’ AI projects, Sama was founded with a mission to provide unprecedented opportunities in the digital economy to underserved regions across the globe. We do this by providing our employees with living wages and robust training in AI, machine learning and data annotation. These programs and skills enable our employees to grow within their careers at Sama, while opening doors for future opportunities within the AI industry as a whole. 

Our expert data annotation team is responsible for developing the training data used to power various products across industries such as manufacturing & robotics, autonomous vehicles, e-commerce, retail, and agriculture. And now, with some exciting partnerships, we are looking forward to leveraging our training data in the growing influencer marketing industry.

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We’d love to hear your thoughts on the effects of AI on Influencer Marketing Technologies today?

Over the last few years, influencer marketing has become a major component of businesses’ marketing strategies. Tools to track its success, however, have been slower to take form. As more and more of the budget is allocated to influencer partnerships, it’s crucial that companies know how to measure the benefits. That’s where AI comes in. 

With artificial intelligence, companies can autonomously analyze key metrics such as social media engagement, Earned Media Value (EMV), and the ROI of influencer investment. For example, Tribe Dynamics takes its analytics a step further by gathering granular insights on more than 2,600 brands and more than 200,000 influencers. Sama has played a crucial role in the growth of influencer and brand campaigns managed by Tribe Dynamics. Since beginning its work with Sama, the company has grown its customer base by almost 4X to help more than 2,600 brands succeed. 

This growth is largely a result of the expert team and machine learning-assisted annotation technology, which handles 60-70% of the brand vetting process. This includes identifying obscure brand mentions and language that the algorithm has not yet been trained on.

Once these brands are onboarded to Tribe Dynamics’ platform, the AI-powered technology leverages brand data to improve influencer marketing by suggesting ideal creators and identifying the unique ways brands are talked about by consumers. 

This collaboration demonstrates how AI improves influencer marketing by analyzing data and receiving actionable insights instantly compared to manual review processes, which could take days to process. For example, utilizing text and image recognition, AI can assess creators’ interests, industries, demographics, and brand affinities by scanning through thousands of posts, saving marketers time from having to vet creators one by one. 

How do you feel influencer marketing tools will impact marketing in the future?

Influencer marketing was once an experimental channel that many marketers failed to recognize as an effective strategy in its early days. However, in the past three years alone, the value of influencer marketing has more than doubled from a valuation of $6.5 billion in 2019 to now $13.8 billion in 2021. 

With the rise of social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, we have seen influencers ability to reach new customer bases firsthand. As more brands realize the potential for influencer marketing to improve their bottom line, the technologies that improve their campaigns will become essential in maximizing ROI and building brand awareness.

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How can brands and marketers leverage influencer marketing and what analytics should they follow to drive better performance?

I believe that now more than ever brands and marketers should consider influencer marketing as one of their primary marketing tools. Social media ads and traditional out-of-home channels will always play a role in an effective marketing strategy, however, influencers ability to genuinely connect with a target audience is currently unmatched. Tribe Dynamics helps brands and marketers track their share of a conversation by cutting through to enable data-driven decision making.

A common issue brands face is assessing mentions of their brand against casual mentions of similar keywords. For example, a customer may share a post talking about Benefit Cosmetics and describe the product by saying “I love this blush from Benefit.” This is something that would be easy for an AI algorithm to spot and attribute to the Benefit Cosmetics brand. However, if someone shares a post online saying “The benefit of using blush,” AI may assume this is about Benefit Cosmetics despite it being completely unrelated to the company. This is because the algorithm pulls out key words such as “benefit” and “blush” and automatically attributes it to Benefit Cosmetics. When this happens, it completely skews a brand’s perception of how they are being talked about in the media and the amount of mentions they have. Using Sama’s high-quality training data and data labeling, Tribe Dynamics’ software accurately catches 95% of mentions to give companies a realistic look at how their brand is perceived by consumers.  

As Martech evolves and allows marketers to preempt customer needs, how do you feel marketers of tomorrow will have to think differently to stay a step ahead?

Marketing has always been a field on the cutting-edge of business. Historically, marketers stayed one-step ahead by studying consumer patterns and gathering data on thousands of households. With the introduction of AI, however, marketers now have the ability to merge consumer insights and AI’s advanced technology to make accurate predictions and business decisions in seconds. Marketers of the future can stay ahead by integrating AI-powered, influencer marketing technologies to get the most out of every influencer campaign.

Furthermore, AI will allow marketers to experience new levels of productivity. Given that artificial intelligence automates finding talent and analyzing market trends, marketers are able to focus on higher-level strategy, writing, and content creation. 

A few takeaways for marketing leaders and CEOs/CMOs?

Leverage AI as a tool to get the most out of your marketing budget. AI is able to analyze key metrics in record time and provide marketing teams with actionable data points rather than qualitative assumptions. Major companies like Amazon, Calvin Klein, and Starbucks are already using AI to maximize returns on their marketing strategy. 

There are so many influencers to choose from to promote your product. Something to keep in mind when choosing someone to become an extension of your brand is their values and tone. At Sama, we believe ethical practices are at the core of every strong business model. Therefore, when choosing influencers to partner with your brand, align yourselves with individuals and entities who share your values.

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Sama provides high quality training data to power AI technology. The company’s platform is trusted by the world’s most ambitious organizations to develop accurate machine learning models. Used by leading technology companies such as Google, NVIDIA, GM, and Walmart, Sama specializes in image, video, language, and sensor data annotation and validation for machine learning algorithms in industries including manufacturing and robotics, bio and medtech, autonomous vehicles, entertainment, e-commerce, retail, and agriculture.

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