AI has been on everyone’s lips in 2017 and nowhere more than in marketing technology, where it has not only augmented marketing tasks but also replaced some roles entirely.
Today, Cobiro — an AI marketing service for small businesses — announced that it has received $2 million in grants from the European Commission to expand and improve its advertising solution.
So what does Cobiro do?
Cobiro is a fully automated solution that allows small businesses to create Google AdWords ads. It uses artificial intelligence to create AdWords campaigns without the need for an expert. By collecting website data, it can create ads, decide on the right keywords, and then place bids based on a budget.
Because it uses AI, Cobiro optimizes ad campaigns, making adjustments and improving AdWords in real time.
Behind the scenes, Cobiro is doing some fairly sophisticated work.
Using natural language processing (NLP), it compares the advertiser’s website to millions of accumulated site mappings. It uses this analysis to identify the main line of the advertiser’s business down to industry, sub-industry, and specific business specialities. Cobiro’s NLP currently supports 39 languages.
It then uses NLP and machine learning to identify the right keywords and optimize them based on return on investment. From there, the solution creates a full set of AdWords ad units, including the ad creative content. Cobiro isn’t yet working with images and video, but it can build text-based ad units.
“We are using AI for various purposes,” Bo Krogsgaard, CEO and cofounder of Cobiro, told me. “The primary use is language technology, which is where it creates the most value. One of the most time-consuming and costly parts of managing Google AdWords is to set up the campaigns and maintain them. Using NLP to figure out what the essence of a product or a service is about is key to being found on Google.”
That’s where Cobiro helps save time for marketers who understand AdWords and for smaller businesses that don’t have a dedicated marketing function.
“Let’s say that you are advertising a running shoe, Cobiro will automatically detect the noun, the adjective, and the brand of the shoe to make a keyword phrase ‘Red [adj] Nike [brand] running shoe [noun]’ and variates of this keyword phrase,” Krogsgaard said.
Cobiro’s use of NLP to determine the business line is sophisticated too.
“For websites that do not sell products online but offer a service — like if you are a lawyer, a carpenter, a dentist, or [something] similar, we use neural networks to figure out the area of expertise,” Krogsgaard said. “If you are a lawyer, you might be working with M&A or a completely different area, like social housing or environmental law. Setting up relevant campaigns for these websites is obviously very different. Many humans are confused by the difference and might not tell them apart, but the neural network is very accurate and likely much more accurate than humans in determining whether it is one or the other.”
It is also crawling the advertiser’s website for additional information.
“Natural Language Processing is also helping Cobiro to understand the context before setting up the campaigns and enriching the ads with an address, a phone number, reviews from happy customers, relevant site links — content that makes your ad stand out and increases the performance by using all the features of Google AdWords — fully automated,” Krogsgaard said.
And the cost? The service itself is free to use.
“We do also offer a premium plan at $49 per month if you need a more detailed reporting and phone support, but the core of Cobiro is free,” Anders Ibsen, CCO and cofounder at Cobiro, said. “Cobiro does have some large players that use the service, but the majority are smaller companies with 1-50 employees. The platform is autonomous, so the traditional model of charging a percentage or a commission is not making sense here, and approximately 20 percent of our customers upgrade to premium.”
So what’s next for Cobiro now that it has been granted $2 million?
“What you will see from us in the future are tools that help small businesses,” Ibsen said. “It will, of course, be in an advertising context, and we have some very interesting and powerful services in our pipeline. We have started with Google AdWords because it has one of the biggest impacts on the growth of small businesses from an advertising perspective, and people are struggling to get it right — now they can — and that is how we like to contribute.”
As with many marketing technologies, the service started out as an internal project.
“We built the technology for ourselves,” Ibsen said, adding, “99 percent of businesses around the globe are SMBs, and this is where economic growth comes from. If we can contribute to a healthier economy for these businesses out there, we are more than happy to give away our service for free.”