AI-powered consumer insights platform Zappi raises $170M

The artificial intelligence-powered and big-data-focused consumer insights platform ZappiStore Ltd. today said it has closed on a bumper $170 million round of funding led by Sumeru Equity Partners and other co-investors.

Zappi, as the company likes to be known, is the creator of a novel ad testing platform that provides creators with centralized access to modern research methodologies, allowing them to test their ideas quickly, learn about their impact faster, and use those insights to make better decisions.

The startup claims that its AI-powered research software is unique in that it can deliver impactful results in hours rather than weeks, as is typically the case with consumer research. Using Zappi’s platform, creators can compare the results of their studies against 1.2 billion historical data points, in order to validate, inspire and then optimize their best ideas before taking them to market.

The platform enables creators to accelerate their ideas for advertising, new products and shopping experiences by launching research in more than 40 countries using tried and tested methodologies in a matter of hours. Moreover, there’s no need to wait around for the research to wrap up, because Zappi’s surveys are typically completed within just six hours, with users able to watch the data live as it rolls in.

All that means it’s possible to form and test hypotheses in just a couple of clicks. Users can also shape, filter and compare the survey data in numerous ways to find new insights.

Zappi co-founder and Chief Executive Steve Philips said his company’s vision is to digitize consumer insights for every enterprise. He explained that currently, just 3% of the consumer market research industry is digitized, with the other 97% controlled by “service-based incumbents that are slow, expensive, analog and don’t fit the needs of creators.”

“We’re driving innovation in the century-old industry with a platform that acts as a single source of truth for the modern enterprise, where creators have the right insights at their fingertips to inform every decision,” he said.

Constellation Research Inc. analyst Liz Miller told SiliconANGLE that Zappi is one of the most promising of a group of companies that are aiming to transform how brands consume market research, adding that it’s a notoriously difficult market to crack. “Where Zappi is looking to make its mark is with how quickly and easily brands can understand what their market research insights mean,” Miller said. “This is where its AI comes into play, and what really stands out is its promise to analyze against key benchmarks, including competitors and categories. This adds a new layer of analysis that goes above and beyond just what consumers think, showing how they are reacting to your own ads, and also those of your competitors.”

The strategic investment from Sumeru comes after several years of what Zappi called “strong momentum.” During that time, it has expanded its team to more than 300 people across 13 countries. It now works with more than 350 global enterprises, including PepsiCo Inc., McDonald’s Corp. and Heineken NV

Stephan Gans, senior vice president and chief consumer insights and analytics officer at PepsiCo, said Zappi has been a key partner for the company in its efforts to digitize its core advertising capabilities. He said PepsiCo has scaled Zappi’s advertising pre-testing tools to more than 100 insights professionals across the globe. “Our collaboration with Zappi has demonstrated huge business impact and has raised the bar on creative effectiveness year-over-year, significantly improving the ROI on our media investment,” Gans added.

Zappi said it will use the investment from Sumeru to accelerate its position as what it terms the industry’s leading software platform for agile consumer insights. As part of that aim, it plans to expand its datasets into new markets, verticals and categories, enhance its platform with new AI and natural language processing technologies, and continue expanding its teams globally.

“Zappi needs to invest some of this new cash in self-service, ease-of-use and access for brands,” Miller said. “It also needs to think about how to bring more qualitative intelligence into its quantitative model. This is where rivals like UserTesting have excelled, bringing self-service access to qualitative reactions into the mix.”

Image: Zappi:

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