TechBytes with Todd Grossman, CEO Americas at Talkwalker

Todd Grossman

Todd Grossman
CEO Americas at Talkwalker

Talkwalker has always been at the forefront of the AI race. We spoke to Todd Grossman, CEO Americas at Talkwalker, to understand how his company is leading the state of AI in the social media listening landscape.

Tell us about your role at Talkwalker and the team/technology you handle.

Talkwalker is a listening and analytics platform that helps over 1,400 brands and agencies to optimize the impact of their communication efforts. We provide companies with an easy-to-use platform to protect, measure and promote their brand worldwide, across all communication channels. In a few words, our technology monitors and analyzes online conversations in real-time across social networks, news websites, blogs and forums in 187 languages.

As for myself, I joined Talkwalker a little over three years ago, at a time when the company was looking to open an office in New York City. We already had a solid client base in Europe, but the few customers we had secured in the United States wanted closer support, and there was a lot of local demand for our type of technology. As Talkwalker’s Americas CEO, I had to build our US team and brand presence from the ground up, and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve gotten. We now have a second US office in San Francisco, fifty US employees and are hiring like crazy.

What is the state of AI in the social media listening landscape?

Artificial intelligence is a buzzword that has been going around for a while now, but it has real potential to help marketers and PR professionals accelerate processes, improve the accuracy of their results and get rid of routine manual tasks.

AI is a technology that has always been woven into our tool from the very start. At first, it was just a way for us to better identify the structure of websites, then in 2016, we were the very first listening company to introduce a proprietary image recognition technology within its existing platform. Our algorithm detects over 30,000 logos, objects and scenes, which allows brands to find “hidden” visual mentions in images published online, as well as to better understand the context in which their brand and products are featured by their consumers.

Later, we used AI to improve the accuracy of our sentiment analysis feature. We’ve also most recently introduced a feature that we call “AI engine” to help our clients get rid of irrelevant mentions and extract more insights from their data by creating their own custom models.

Could you elaborate more on the feature “AI-Powered Sentiment”? To what extent could this impact the way audience/customers interact with brands?

You might have heard that automated sentiment analysis used to have a bad reputation. While it’s impossible for big brands to ask human analysts to categorize the hundreds of thousands of results generated about them every day, this technology was just not reliable enough, mainly because it was based on product scoring.

However, introducing AI into the mix was a game changer. Using deep learning models that simulate the cognitive functions of the human brain, the technology can understand complex language patterns and entire sentences, and even deal with basic forms of sarcasm and irony. With tens of millions of results in our training set, we are now able to ensure a 90% accuracy rate.

This is very important for brands mindful of the evolution of their business. Negative comments and articles that could potentially harm your reputation can be tracked and dealt with in minutes, product launches can be monitored to the dot, customer experience can be improved… the use cases are endless.

How do you differentiate your marketing technology platform from the rest in the competition?

One of the main differentiators for Talkwalker is data coverage. As mentioned before, we don’t only crawl text but have our very own image recognition technology to unlock new insights. We crawl over 150 million news sites, blogs and forums, and have connectors to dozens of social media, business intelligence and web analytics platforms such as Hootsuite, Tableau or Google Analytics.

How do you bring together AI, Machine Learning and Big Data at Talkwalker?

At Talkwalker, we’re really good at collecting and combining different sets of data. Yet without good analytics, data is not very useful. Our AI-powered features help our customers make the most of their external and internal data by automating processes, helping them gain time and extract insights to drive their business decisions.

What are the opportunities and risks you foresee in the way location data is shaping for 2020-2025? How do you leverage these at Talkwalker for better analytics?

The opportunities are endless.  Technology is constantly improving at a very fast pace and location data will continue to be a very sensitive topic.  Talkwalker takes data privacy very seriously and is GDPR compliant. Technology should never infringe on laws that are designed to protect the rights of citizens.  At Talkwalker, we will continue to develop technology that is compliant with the laws in protecting citizens.

Given the rapid transformation in conversational marketing technologies, how do you prepare for further disruptions in the industry?

I think that is what is exciting in our industry, it’s the constant change! In order to adapt, we maintain a close relationship with our clients and industry leaders to understand how their use cases evolve, how we can better support them and how to drive innovation. This is also why we have three to four product releases a year, just to make sure the platform is up to date in terms of features and source coverage. Keep an eye out for Talkwalker. We have many more amazing features and tools coming for marketers and PR professionals!

How does the post-GDPR impact your tech platform? How does AI help you manage your actions better?  

Right now it is too early to say how GDPR will impact our platform in the long run. What we do know is that we are constantly innovating and using AI to better help our clients and will always abide by regulations set to protect individual privacy rights.

Thanks for chatting with us, Todd.

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