First Look: Idio

June 3, 2013

in Advanced Analyitcs, Decision Management

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As part of my ongoing series on Marketing Decision Management Solutions I got my first look at a new take on next best action systems the other day with the folks from Idio. Idio focuses on what they call “intelligent customer experiences through content.” They have what amounts to a real time decisioning platform focused on content analysis and content delivery – they use analysis of content to drive personalized interactions with content. Idio was founded 2006 and has grown to about 25 staff with lots of experience in next best action and automated decisioning including staff from KiQ, Chordiant, Acxiom and Alterian.

Most customer next best action projects are being driven by a well understood, if complex, set of data about customers, their behavior and the available products. This data is stored in a company’s core customer, order and product databases. The approach is focused squarely on building and extending the relationship a company has with its customers. Idio’s focus is on how to use the same approach in marketing, where the interests being responded to are more dynamic, where companies know less about a prospect (than a customer) and where content really matters (more than structured data). Idio’s decision engine was built from the ground up to manage, optimize and personalize the experiences that can be delivered through content marketing.

Idio is cloud-based and has four core components:

  • A curation module for managing content from within and without the enterprise
  • Unstructured text/natural language processing that processes this content to identify its topic as it is ingested
  • Analytics to track customer interactions with content such as clicks on emails or webpages, tweets, facebook updates etc. These are combined into a real-time profile of someone.
  • A decision engine

All this drives a next best content selection that can be made available through different channels. There’s also a measurement piece to track the value of the engine.

Users begin by curating content into the repository. Idio can either import content from your RSS feeds, or you can place Idio’s tags on your website and it will import your existing deployed content. As this interaction data is gathered it builds up a profile of a person and their behavior. This behavior drives content recommendations and can be provided to other systems through an API.

Idio can ingest content from multiple sources such as RSS feeds as well as an internal content management system. For each you can define licensing restrictions (title and link only, full content etc) as well as approval levels. Content is then reviewed, approved, categorized and perhaps highlighted. Each piece can be edited too in the UI. The engine extracts a preliminary set of topics when the content is ingested and resolves them to a large topic database.

Content is then grouped into sections using rules based on the attributes/topics identified for a piece of content. This can group content for display on a website and can also be used to exclude content such as articles about competitors. These sections can also mirror customer segments or localities so that specific customers can be pushed content relevant to them – selecting the most relevant content from within a section known to contain articles about their location for instance. Content sections can also be tied to a specific next best action such as pushing a mortgage so that the most relevant content to that action is delivered.

Idio does not require a company’s existing channel management tools to be changed, integrating with both their content management tools and the various delivery platforms that exist. They have relationships and integrations with tools such as ExactTarget, Alterian etc. This helps their customers integrate dynamic content into existing channels and deliver dynamic content consistently across those channels – each unique channel solution is using Idio as a shared content decision engine. These integrations are provided in an app store like way allowing a company to select the ones they need. The API allows different email or social or web tools to request content. In an email for instance, an API call is made for content before sending the email. A package of material is returned and then pushed into the template. All the formatting and image v text v headline stuff is handled by the consuming system so it stays the same for a customer.

Idio works on anonymous visitors/prospects as well as identified ones so it can be used from acquisition to engagement and retention. As prospects become known this can be retrofitted to the original anonymous profile. Idio also has a profile API that allows other systems to get access not only to the next best content but also to the interest graph that gets constructed for someone. Idio can also “flatten” this into a more typical structured data model so that it can be integrated with other information in traditional systems. This allows a prospect or customer’s content interests to drive next best action systems and allows an existing next best action system to ask Idio for the best content to fulfill that action.

Idio continues to develop their approach, looking into how they might summarize or otherwise manipulate the content before returning it and developing a dashboard of content performance similar to those used to track ad performance (measuring clicks, impressions, effectiveness etc).

From a customer perspective, Consumer Branded Goods is one of their major target areas because, of course, these companies don’t have any data about their customers because their products are purchased through retailers. Idio also targets the Financial Services, Telcom, and Automotive sectors. In various projects the platform has shown 600%+ click growth, 120%+ on site time, 250% growth in conversation etc. You can find more information on Idio, and personalized content marketing, here.

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