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Persado: Words Matter

Persado is a company that uses AI to take the guesswork out of creative marketing. I caught up with Co-Founder and SVP of Product Assaf Baciu, who told me how the company was founded, what it's all about, and where they're going next.

Tell me the story of how Persado was founded.

I first found inspiration for Persado during my time working at Upstream, a European mobile marketing and commerce company. It was there that my Co-founder, Alex Vratskides and I first understood the power of the actual words used in marketing campaigns. We noticed that simple word changes made sizable differences in how marketing campaigns were received and sought to understand what in the language was driving the changes, and how to craft the perfect marketing message. Working with a team of world-class researchers, we began experimenting with artificial intelligence, various machine learning algorithms, and computational linguistics to engineer a solution. Ultimately, we built a product that could generate marketing messages and systematically drive better engagement and conversions. This was a significant breakthrough since we were now applying mathematical certainty to words, the foundational DNA of digital marketing. After successfully building the model in 2012, Persado was spun off as a separate company.

For those who don't know, what does Persado do?

Assaf Baciu Persado
Persado Co-Founder and SVP of Product Assaf Baciu.

At a high-level, Persado aims to take the “guesswork” out of digital marketing creative—instead applying mathematical certainty to the words that are used in marketing communications. Our platform, the Persado Message Machine, combines AI, data science, computational linguistics and machine learning to create language models that speak to our customers’ industry and align with their brand voice. In turn, these models generate authentic creative that our customers are able to use across email, display ads, social media, landing pages, SMS, push notifications and more.

The foundation for Persado’s technology has few layers including a variety of NLP algorithms to classify marketing language and a first-of-its-kind knowledge base that houses over one million tagged and organized words and phrases along with a unique classification of marketing language. Our knowledge base is constantly growing with machine learning and uniquely adapted classifiers for marketing language: E.g. type of variable (emotional, descriptive, CTA, formatting and positioning). Combined with powerful language generation, experimentation, and prediction algorithms, we’re able to understand how different elements of a message, such as emotions and descriptions, perform in particular situations. These technologies work together to deliver authentic, personalized creative for any brand, campaign, and audience.

How has the company evolved over time?

It’s been an incredible journey seeing Persado grow into the robust platform it is today. Since 2012, we’ve expanded our product capabilities and integrations, acquired amazing customers, and raised over $66M from both strategic and venture capital investors, including American Express, Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs.

Who are your customers? Do you have any examples?

Persado currently works with more than 200 companies, many of which are Fortune 500 brands including Air Canada, Microsoft, American Express, Dell and Vodafone. Our customers primarily operate across the retail, travel, financial services, and telecom industries. In total, we’ve helped our customers drive over $1B in incremental revenue on marketing campaigns.

How big is the team?

Persado has an incredible team of about 300 people that work globally in seven offices across the U.S. and Europe.

What's next for Persado?

In Q4 we launched a product update that introduced an application of Narrative Intelligence to our platform. With this update, we’ve been able to craft authentic and engaging messages for marketing campaigns that reflect the nuances of brand voice, adapt to the context of each campaign, and account for each audience’s tailored interests.

This year, we have a few exciting product updates and integrations in the pipeline. We’re continuing to grow our capabilities and solutions to better serve our customers, including building out our analytics and insights platform later this quarter.

Our vision for the future is to build a platform that can drive cohesive, fully-personalized customer journeys. By that, I mean integrating personalized creative such that every message, emotion, and narrative received by a customer—across every touchpoint—truly resonates with them. From subject lines and email body to social, mobile and web interactions, we want to ensure that every moment reinforces the brand’s story while creating a meaningful customer journey.

Alexander Culafi is Producer & Editor for VentureFizz. He also edits and produces The VentureFizz Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @culafia.