When we think of the AI platforms that are shaping how we use natural language to interact with phones, home devices and other services, we think of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana.
According to recent surveys, by 2020, 80 percent of consumer brands will have built or will build an Alexa Skill, Google Action or a chatbot for sales and marketing. The ecosystem has grown quickly, creating a rich opportunity for contextual advertising.
Eyelevel.ai, a startup emerging from the 2018 Berkeley SkyDeck accelerator winter cohort, is now introducing the first native conversational marketing platform. EyeLevel.ai’s in-context, conversational ads and promotions deliver relevant messages to users that feel like recommendations from a friend.
With more than 45 customers already signed up, and with a publisher network of more than 1700 chat applications, the company has closed a $2 million seed round, led by Birchmere Venture, with participation from Strawberry Creek Ventures, Inspiration Ventures as well as a second investment by Berkeley SkyDeck.
An early Eyelevel.ai publisher, MeReminder from Tiv.ai, with more than 2 million reachable users, is now using the platform successfully to monetize their conversational application.
“We realized that to work, promotional content must be delivered in context, or else the users would hate it,” says Tiv.ai, CTO Assaf Elovic. “I can’t emphasize enough the challenges associated with delivering context-based advertisements and why it’s not something that a company like ours can do well. We see EyeLevel.ai as a long-term strategic partner and as our top priority monetization channel.”
The brands and businesses using the new platform are also delighted to uncover a new and more natural way to find and interact with new customers.
Jake Annear, Digital Marketing & Innovation, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), said, “Conversational marketing is the future of digital advertising and an area that LVMH is actively using to acquire new customers. With its proprietary AI platform, strong founding team and ability to understand the needs of its clients, Eyelevel.ai delivers a unique and exciting value proposition.”
The Eyelevel.ai founding team met while working at IBM Watson and have been joined by now president Mike Werner, a 20-year adtech pioneer. Prior to joining Eyelevel.ai, Werner was Vice President at Rakuten and a co-founder and head of sales at both BlueLithium & RadiumOne.
“After a couple months meeting with the team, I made the move without hesitation. Eyelevel does something that no other ad tech or marketing platform can do, easily connect brands with consumers in messaging, chat and conversational applications,” said Werner. “It’s clear that end users of conversational applications are receptive to receiving marketing messages, but the trick has always been that it must be in context and it can’t be intrusive and it must contribute value to the conversation itself. If someone asks a chatbot about the weather next week, it’s okay to promote an umbrella if it’s going to rain. People like that sort of recommendation because it adds value and feels very natural. What gets me excited is that with our service that same chatbot would promote sunglasses when it’s sunny.”