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Market research is a business that has always relied on data and lots of it. Making sense of all that data in a meaningful way, however, has long been a challenge, but it’s one that artificial intelligence (AI) is being tasked with solving.

Market intelligence firm, Zappi, helps organizations with research efforts around marketing advertising and product innovation. It’s a business that got started in 2012 and in recent years has deeply integrated AI and machine learning (ML) into its processes and platform to help organizations get better insights. Zappi counts PepsiCo, McDonald’s, Heineken, and Reckitt among its customer base.

“Our focus is embedding human expertise into software for the analysis, interpretation and communication of data that will help clients make better decisions,” Steve Phillips, CEO and cofounder of Zappi, told VentureBeat.

In a bid to help the company further grow its technology and go-to-market efforts, Zappi announced today that it has raised $170 million in new funding.

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How market research works in a data-driven world

Zappi does market research that helps organizations with product innovation and advertising efforts.

For example, Phillips explained that a client can come to Zappi saying they’ve got an idea for a new advertisement. That idea might be expressed as a paragraph or two, an animation, or it might be some sketches. 

“We’re trying to help inspire, optimize and validate their ideas,” Phillips said. 

Zappi takes that concept and brings it to consumer-panel organizations. The data that comes from those panels then gets loaded into the Zappi system via an API (application programming interface). Zappi uses AI to validate that the respondents to the panels match a given set of criteria for a target audience.

Once inside the Zappi system, data analytics and AI-driven analysis can be executed. A core part of the analysis is benchmarking. Phillips said that organizations can benchmark against hundreds of thousands of concepts that are in the Zappi system. The system also integrates market-data AI models to help predict potential market success for a new product.

As part of the process, Zappi’s platform writes a report that identifies what works, what doesn’t and what can be improved. 

Where Zappi is headed with its $170M raise

In an economy that is being significantly impacted by inflation, Phillips sees an opportunity for growth. In his view, organizations are looking to find more efficiencies and automate as much as they can to reduce costs.

“The enterprise buyer is increasingly wanting to digitize more and more because it’s a better value structure,” he said.

Phillips noted that Zappi works with some well-known large brands including PepsiCo and Colgate-Palmolive, among others, that are part of the company’s customer advisory group. Among the requested enhancements that will come in future updates to Zappi is the need for more predictive modeling to help organizations better predict the success of future products. Enabling more predictive modeling involves getting more data from different sources, as well as ML training.

“We want to help organizations maximize the utility of the data that we provide, and also pull some of their data out to improve our data modeling,” Phillips said.

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