Blueshift Raises $15M Series-B Investment

We have some exciting news to share today! We raised a $15 million Series-B round led by SoftBank Ventures Asia. SoftBank deeply believes in AI’s ability to transform how we live, work and play, and we’re thrilled to partner with them. We have a long way to go in our mission to put AI in the hands of every marketer, but we have some concrete plans on how to get there, fueled by this new funding.

The Paradigm Shift in Customer Engagement

We live in an exciting time to be a consumer marketer. Today’s always-on customer is leaving behind large amounts of dynamic data about their intents and interests.  At the same time, as more and more digital channels emerge, and more of them become “people-addressable”, brands have more avenues to put this data to work and intelligently engage with every customer as a segment-of-one.

Adapting to this always-on world requires a paradigm shift in marketing. Brands and marketers need to make the shift from channel-centric approaches to a truly customer-centric one, intelligently orchestrating customer engagement across every touchpoint.

Marketing cloud solutions, built 20 or more years ago for a single-channel world with largely static data, have proven to be insufficient for engaging today’s always-on customer. Customer Data Infrastructure companies have emerged to solve some of the growing pains around data, helping technology teams manage new forms of data. However, simply “managing” the data is not enough, and brands need to make the shift from towards putting the data to work on every channel, driving intelligent customer engagement.

The Shift So Far: AI in the Hands of Marketers

In this first phase of our journey, we are proud to have worked with cutting edge marketers, who have embraced the power of AI to unlock their customer data intelligently on every channel. Blueshift has helped marketers scale their storytelling and personalization, and drive revenue and ROI in the process. Using Blueshift’s AI-Powered Cross-Channel Journeys, Predictive Audience Syndications, and Live Personalization, marketers have been able to transform their customer engagement on email, SMS, mobile push notifications, websites and paid media channels like Facebook Custom Audiences and Google Customer Match.

In short, marketers using Blueshift’s AI have made the shift from being button-pushers to becoming strategic and creative brand storytellers, scaling their stories to millions of customers and creating AI-Powered Brands in the process.

The Next Shift: AI in Every Customer Facing Application, Everywhere

As we enter the next phase of our growth, we’re excited to extend the power of Blueshift’s AI to every customer-facing application. When we started Blueshift, we knew that customer engagement would be multi-channel, but even we couldn’t have imagined that banks would be engaging their customers over chatbots, or that TV advertising would start becoming “people-addressable” so quickly. Our newly announced app framework and Customer Data Activation Platform (CDAP) will help brands make every customer engagement application, including proprietary in-house applications, smarter with Blueshift’s AI.

We have been very fortunate to have a global base of customers from our early days. With the new funding, we will continue to invest in our global presence to support our customers everywhere. In addition to our San Francisco headquarters, Blueshift will be expanding in North Carolina, UK and India.

A big thank you to all our customers, employees, partners, and investors. We couldn’t have made it so far without your support at every step. We are excited about the future, and look forward to working with all of you in the next phase of our journey.

Introducing the First-Ever Customer Data Activation Platform, Powered by Blueshift

We live in an always-on world where customers are increasingly interacting with brands across multiple touchpoints and “channels”. Not only have newer channels of engagement emerged, but more of the traditional broadcast channels have become “people addressable”. Ten years ago, we could not have imagined that banks would be engaging with customers over chatbots, or that TV advertising could be segmented and personalized. At the same time, traditional channels like email, SMS, direct mail, telesales and more have continued to stay relevant.

The Challenge of Intelligent Customer Engagement

Having so many people-addressable channels at their disposal gives brands the opportunity to drive true 1:1 Customer Engagement at scale. However, brands must overcome the challenge of delivering relevant and consistent messages on every touchpoint. This can be challenging with an ever-expanding set of tools and apps for each channel. Each of these channels and tools has a limited view of the customer, and that makes it challenging for marketers to intelligently engage customers. Common challenges include:

  • One-to-One: How can I personalize at a one-to-one level on each of these tools, merchandising the best offer or content for each customer at the right time?
  • Real-Time: How do I understand my customers and respond to them in real-time?
  • Cross-Channel: How do I deliver a consistent experience across touchpoints?

Without a complete view of customer data to aid these decisions, marketers often resort to simple batch-and-blast techniques that lead to irrelevance and incoherence across channels. How can brands escape a fragmented customer experience, or worse still, an experience that lacks any relevance to customers?

Activated Customer Data is the Glue

The problem lies in putting channels at the center of our processes rather than people. Marketers regularly build programs for paid media, email, and so on. But that approach means we’re always following (and attempting to catch up to) the customer. When we flip the order to focus on the customer first, the output becomes much more valuable. Customer data contains clues to customers’ intents and interests, but the data often lies dormant and disconnected from most channels. Activating this dormant data can help brands move from channel-centric to customer-centric.

In an always-on world, relevant customer engagement involves making millions of intelligent decisions in real-time, across multiple channels. Intelligent decisions that are made with a consistent view of customer data can help brands deliver a highly relevant and consistent experience for each customer. In other words, activated Customer Data is the glue that can make customer engagement relevant again. That is why I am excited about Blueshift’s launch of the Customer Data Activation Platform (CDAP) today.

Announcing the Customer Data Activation Platform (CDAP; “SEE-dap”)

The CDAP is a vision we have been working towards with our previous release, including AI-Powered Cross-Channel Journeys, Predictive Audience Syndications, and Live Personalization. Today, we released our App Framework that completes our vision. In simple words, the CDAP helps brands deliver intelligent customer engagement on every touchpoint on the tools they already use, by activating a full circle view of their Customer Data.

It’s not hard to imagine when and where a platform like this would be useful, but some key use cases include:

  • Personalize messages across engagement channels. Increase the relevance of messaging across online, offline, or proprietary custom built apps including email, mobile, direct mail, and chat
  • Increase paid marketing return on ad spend (ROAS). Identify high-intent customers through predictive modeling and keep them continuously updated in Google, Facebook, Twitter, Taboola, Linkedin, etc. through Blueshift Audience Sync.
  • Coordinate and optimize customer experience across channels. Trigger real-time, behavior-based messaging across customer touchpoints. Self-learning models optimize the journey flow.
  • Power CRM, analytics, and other systems with the latest user behaviors and dynamic segments. Automatically update and keep all your BI tools, analytics systems, CRM systems, and other technologies synced.
  • Streamline the customer experience across the full customer journey. Have customer service teams and messaging applications access a complete customer understanding and trigger real-time actions.

You can read the full press release here.

Winning through Data Activation

For years, brands have been investing in projects that help them “manage” data. While data management is a worthy goal, successful brands are more often defined by whether they can activate that data to drive intelligent customer experiences. Winners move beyond working for their data, and put their customer data to work for them.

Activating your customer data leads to a virtuous cycle for brands:

  • Customers interact with your brand and leave behind some first party data
  • Activating this data helps deliver personalized experiences
  • Personalization leads to trust with customers
  • The increased trust leads customers to interact more with the brand and share more data

This virtuous cycle of “data -> personalization -> trust -> more data” is the key to winning with today’s customers. In fact, a recent study by Blueshift and Techvalidate showed that the brands that activate more of their customer data also drive revenue success.

With the Customer Data Activation Platform, brands finally have the full set of tools they need for activating their customer data on every touchpoint with their customers.

5 Predictions for AI in Marketing in 2019


Forbes – This article originally appeared on Forbes.

There’s no denying that artificial intelligence is rapidly moving from fiction to reality. In marketing, especially, interest in AI has intensified as marketers have realized the potential that intelligently harnessing the ever-growing streams of customer data has on transforming customer experiences.

AI has become increasingly important not only to marketers but to organizations as a whole in order to stay ahead in today’s dynamic market landscape. According to a recent MIT global survey of 600 executives, nine out of ten companies already use AI to improve their customer journeys. More importantly, 70% of those companies have seen it directly improve revenue. Netflix has projected that its AI-powered personalized recommendations save it $1B in revenue annually by avoiding canceled subscriptions through engaging customers with relevant content.

Fueling AI’s adoption has been marketers demanding to see — and receiving — proof that AI delivers what it promises. Early adopters have shown how AI in marketing makes them more efficient, productive, and effective by simplifying, accelerating, and scaling marketing initiatives while removing many complexities inherent in marketing today. Similarly, our recent benchmark analysis of 3.8B marketing interactions across channels and verticals found that AI-powered marketing campaigns increase customer engagement by 7x and revenue 3x by helping marketers be more targeted, more relevant in their content, and more effective with how they engage each individual customer.

Now, as we step into 2019, here are five predictions for what the year holds for AI in marketing.


1. AI will intelligently orchestrate the full customer journey. Marketers’ first venture into AI was at the top of the funnel for audience expansion and audience targeting. Moving forward, AI will increasingly power the full customer life cycle, from customer acquisition to engagement to retention. Forrester recently predicted that “more than 20% of marketing platforms will use AI to optimize midcycle engagement” for B2B marketing. That number will be far greater for B2C. Furthermore, AI will move from influencing just the edges of the customer experience, such as dynamic content insertion, to orchestrating its core.]

  • What this means for marketers: AI-powered decision engines can solve the increasingly complex customer journey by optimizing, personalizing, and guiding every aspect of customers’ self-guided journeys with your brand. Yet only solutions with AI at their core that can unify all incoming customer data and use its insights to orchestrate decisions in real time can achieve this.


2. CMOs will challenge their teams to scale, and it will happen through AI. As marketing organizations’ demands and revenue targets continue to grow, CMOs will place increasing emphasis on leveraging technology to meet those demands. CMOs will challenge their teams to run more campaigns, add more personalization, and diversify their strategies by being smarter with their resources. Marketing organizations will quickly realize the only technology that can effectively streamline and scale how they work is AI.

  • What this means for marketers: AI can be a partner that amplifies and accelerates your marketing strategies by automating and optimizing hyper-targeted, multi-stage, cross-channel marketing programs. Not only will this allow your team to move faster and produce more, but it will also enable you to find incremental opportunities for growth.


3. Marketers will get creative with how they use AI. As marketers begin to understand how AI can augment and amplify their efforts, we’ll see them leverage AI in innovative ways and start breaking status quo marketing practices. After the initial AI learning curve and period of laying the groundwork with strategy, processes, and people, marketers will start pushing the boundaries of their programs and experimenting with new strategies, taking a bigger leap every time.

  • What this means for marketers: Beyond offloading mundane marketing tasks to AI, embrace the opportunity to reimagine your customer engagement strategies. With AI, new campaign ideas can go live in no time without significant resources and be readily optimized and pivoted.


4. Marketers will fully embrace AI because it stops being black box. Marketers want control of their marketing programs and need to be able to explain their marketing investments. But the first generation of AI marketing asked marketers to take a leap of faith. That’s why the recent Business Insider Intelligence report found that “when asked to choose which trending technology they felt most unprepared for, 34% of global marketing executives chose AI.” The growth in AI in 2019 and beyond will be fueled by “explainable AI” in which marketers can see what factors influence predictions and can control the parameters that guide AI.

  • What this means for marketers: AI adoption will only accelerate, and it’s important to get started implementing AI now or risk falling behind and being leapfrogged in the future. Look for AI solutions that give you the level of control and the visibility into AI algorithms and workflows you need.


5. Marketing AI companies providing real ROI will emerge from the noise. Last year, Gartner analysts predicted that “by 2020, AI technologies will be virtually pervasive in almost every new software product and service.” We’re already seeing this prediction play out with a proliferation of marketing software providers — emerging and incumbent — adding AI to their product strategy and pivoting their messaging to claim AI capabilities. Yet not all marketing AI is created equal. This year, we’ll see more emphasis on separating real AI marketing solutions from fringe AI solutions. Gartner has already started helping marketers identify noteworthy AI solutions by introducing the first Cool Vendors report on AI for Marketing.

  • What this means for marketers: As the “AI” label becomes standard, marketers will find it increasingly challenging to identify real AI solutions capable of effectively solving their problems. Marketers will need to be more vigilant with testing vendors’ claims to weed out masked AI solutions.


Lastly, one final prediction to add to the mix:

2019 will be a pivotal year in which marketers finally realize the ROI of AI. We’ll see AI’s mounting, tangible benefits move it from hype to mainstream. Will 2019 be the year you embrace AI?


Download ROI of AI Marketing: 4 Levers for Cross-Channel Success


Blueshift is committed to being ready for the GDPR well before the May 25th timeline. This is a continuation of our previous and current efforts to handle EU data in a way that complies with the current regulations

GDPR Compliance with Blueshift

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is slated to go into effect starting on May 25, 2018. This new regulation builds on previous EU efforts to strengthen the security and protection of the personal data of EU residents, and is billed as the “the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years”. If you are a EU based business, or even a global business with consumer footprint in the EU, you need to take steps to be compliant with the new regulation.

Blueshift is committed to being ready for the GDPR well before the May 25th timeline. This is a continuation of our previous and current efforts to handle EU data in a way that complies with the current regulations (including our participation in the Privacy Shield Framework).

Not only will Blueshift be ready for GDPR, we are also making tools available for you to comply with GDPR. Specifically, we will support our customers in two ways:

  • We will provide an updated Data Processing Agreement (DPA) that reflects the requirements of the GDPR and ensures compliant data transfer with storage outside the EU
  • We will offer new product capabilities to help you be compliant when your end-customers plan to exercise their rights around accessing the data and to be “forgotten”.

Understanding GDPR

Compared to previous regulations, GDPR imposes more stringent requirements on businesses. For instance, under GDPR, end-customers (“data subjects”) have the following rights:

  • Right to Access: Provide end-customers (“data subjects”) the right to review & correct their data.
  • Right to be forgotten: Enable customers the ability to request your business to erase all (or some) of their data.
  • Data Portability: Enable customers to take their own data elsewhere, by providing a copy in a commonly used and machine readable format.

A more detailed list of rights can be found here.

GDPR imposes a set of requirements on Data Controllers (i.e. entities that track or monitor EU residents and decide why and how data is collected and processed), as well as on Data Processors (entities that process data on behalf of Data Controllers).

Failure to meet the requirements can result in penalties of up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 Million (whichever is greater). Further, the regulations apply to all companies processing the personal data of EU subjects, regardless of the company’s location.

How We Plan to be GDPR Compliant

As our customer, you are likely to be a Data Controller, and one of your requirements is to only work with compliant Data Processors.

We plan to be compliant with GDPR by taking the following measures:

  • Updated Data Processing Agreement (DPA): We plan to roll out an updated DPA for our customers, reflecting the additional requirements of GDPR
  • Secure data transfer and storage outside the EU: Transfers of personal data outside the European Economic Area (EEA) are permitted if certain safeguards are in place. Our new DPA contains the EU Model Clauses, which are industry standard for data safety. This means that Blueshift agrees to protect any data originating from the EEA in line with European data protection standards. 
  • Technical and organizational security measuresBlueshift takes a holistic approach to security, including measures built into our product as well as organizational measures. Some of the measures we take include securing your data in transit and at rest, restricting and securing data access, providing continuous incident monitoring, performing regular vulnerability testing, and conducting regular security training.  We also participate in Truste’s Privacy Certification Program.
  • Processing the data in accordance with Data Controller instructions: As has always been the case, we only process personal data according to instructions from the controller (our customers). 
  • Prompt breach notificationsIn line with our current policies, Blueshift will promptly inform you of any incidents involving your users’ personal data. 

Helping you achieve compliance

In addition to ensuring that Blueshift is compliant with GDPR, we are also rolling out new capabilities that help you achieve compliance as a Data Controller. Some of the rights available to EU Residents as Data Subjects are hard for Data Controllers to manage, due to the limitations of certain systems. Specifically, it is hard for most businesses to implement processes that ensure the right to erasure (the right to be forgotten), the right to object, and the right to restrict processing.

Our customers use Blueshift to unify their customer data (along with deriving customer insights on the data, and finally activating the data and insights through cross-channel campaigns). Because of this, we are in a unique position to help you achieve compliance with GDPR.

We plan to roll out the following enhancement in our product before May 25 that are geared towards helping you a Data Controller:

  • Deletion and automatic suppression: We are adding a /delete endpoint to our existing user API. Issuing this call for a given userId ensures that all personal data related to the userId is deleted from the index of customer data that Blueshift maintains for you, and any future data related to the userId is also suppressed from the index. As a result, the data will not make its way to any marketing action in Blueshift.

Additionally, the following existing capabilities of Blueshift enable you to comply with accessdata portability, and rectification rights:

  • CSV Export of End-Customer Data: You can use the segment export functionality in Blueshift to download user data in CSV format. Under the GDPR, EU residents have a right to access their personal data and are entitled to obtain their personal data in a commonly used format, such as a CSV file.
  • Update (Rectify) End-Customer Data using API or CSV: The GDPR also empowers individuals to correct any personal data that is deemed inaccurate or incomplete. You can rectify user data in 2 ways:
    • Identify Event:  You can fire an “Identify” event to update the data
    • CSV upload: You can also rectify the data using the user upload functionality.

Closing Thoughts

Regulations like GDPR are an important step in making sure that businesses treat customers with respect. GDPR’s guidelines around consent will force every brand to start valuing first party customer data, where the customer has explicitly opted in not only to the collection of the data, but also to the use of the data in marketing. Respectful use of customer data will be critical to delivering delightful brand experiences, and building trust with consumers.  

AI in the drivers seat

Getting AI into the Driver’s Seat of Marketing

While AI is receiving a lot of hype these days, applications of AI and machine learning have been around for a long time. What has changed however, is that AI finally has the potential to stop being a mildly helpful and sometimes annoying backseat driver, and finally operate in the driver’s seat.

This is happening, quite literally, in the world of automobiles, with the advent of self-driving cars. What does it take to make the same transformation happen in other domains?

I shared my thoughts on this subject with TheNextWeb in a feature titled “Why artificial intelligence is stuck in the backseat“. I talked about how “A.I. in marketing technology is the same as A.I. anywhere else. Self driving cars are finally becoming a reality because of a massive amount of map and street view data that helps the A.I. anticipate every possible scenario. Professionals in any industry must prioritize higher quality data input to get A.I. out of the backseat.”

At Blueshift, we focus on putting AI in the driver’s seat of marketing. Compared to Marketing Automation 1.0, which was simply pushing buttons, putting AI in the driver’s seat of marketing helps brands deliver 1:1 Customer Journeys at scale.

Read the full article at TheNextWeb: “Why artificial intelligence is stuck in the backseat