As glad as we are to see the tumultuous past year disappearing into our rearview mirror, we at Brandify wanted to take a moment to reflect upon and acknowledge the accomplishments we’ve made in feature and infrastructure development in what was one of the busiest and most dynamic years in our company’s history. Led by head of product Angela Baljeu and head of technology Jon Scarbrough, our talented team assimilated the needs of brand clients challenged by the effects of the pandemic in order to grow and adapt Brandify’s offerings and to help brands reach consumers with relevant information at the moment of need. We also found time to expand our feature set and complete future-proofing updates to our core infrastructure.
Today’s post will be the first in an ongoing series of product updates, where each month we will recap the most significant updates and new feature releases of the past 30 days. In this inaugural post, we provide a retrospective of 2020 as a whole. Every two weeks or so, Brandify releases new code into production, fixing bugs, improving existing features, and launching new ones, so we won’t be able to cover every release from last year in this post; instead, we’ll focus on some of the most important highlights.
Hyperlocal ad targeting and attribution has been an area of growth for Brandify since 2019, when we first began to conceive of the Brandify Experience Engine, a combination of technologies and data sources that gives us the ability to link online activity to offline actions. We can now provide customized ad targeting around store locations; targeting of customers who are in a store, have been in a store, or have visited competitors; and targeting of customers based on geographic region or membership in loyalty or rewards programs. We deploy dynamic ad creative that is customized according to factors like customer location, demographics, seasonality, and weather, as well as attribution reporting that links online messages to offline store visits. This product line reached full maturity in 2020 via successful deployment for a variety of major retailers.
As we’ve shared with our clients and readers throughout the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic wrought havoc on local search, along with every other aspect of our society. Our clients moved quickly and with amazing efficiency and dedication to update store operations, manage temporary closures, and introduce new health and safety procedures starting in March and continuing throughout the year. Local search publishers rushed to release new features so that consumers would have access to up-to-date information about access to essential stores and services. At Brandify, we worked to keep pace with these demands, releasing support for features like health and safety attributes, special messaging, temporary closure, and secondary hours on Google, Yelp, Bing, and other sites.
Though Google Posts were released as a feature in the Google My Business API a few years ago, a limitation imposed by Google prevented multi-location brands from utilizing the feature. Because Google wanted to emphasize unique content at each business location, brands with 10 or more locations could not make use of the API for Posts. This restriction was removed in the spring of 2020 so that businesses could communicate important information related to COVID-19 more effectively. At this time, Brandify added support for Google Posts to its social posting tools, enabling brands to create Posts communicating health and safety information and other important updates to their customers in a highly scalable manner.
Google Questions and Answers
Also in the spring of 2020, Brandify released a new interface page that allows brands to monitor and respond to questions posted by Google users in the Questions and Answers section of GMB location profiles. Often abbreviated as Google Q&A, this feature is heavily utilized by consumers looking for specific information about a store’s policies, inventory, or services. Many brands are challenged to keep up with the consumer demand for information, and often, Google users answer questions from the public in ways that may be inaccurate or misleading. With Brandify’s Q&A feature, brands can stay on top of questions and answer them authoritatively, providing an important channel of communication and leading to increased conversions and improved consumer trust and loyalty.
Throughout the year, we introduced various improvements to the review management section of the Brandify dashboard, including new search options; the ability to automatically assign review responses to specified location managers; improvements to email notifications; improved support for first-party reviews; enhanced period-over-period trend comparison; and improved support for review response in the case of clients with multiple accounts on publisher sites. We also launched a dedicated reviews-only version of the Brandify mobile app, enabling location managers to respond to reviews without interrupting their daily routines.
Brandify established a number of new strategic partnerships in 2020, extending our solution set and combining Brandify capabilities with complementary services of great value to our brand clients. New partners included Mono Solutions for online scheduling; Zendesk for reputation management; Rakuten Ready for predictive arrival and delivery logistics technology; Trabon for digital menus; DialogTech for enterprise call tracking and analytics; Podium for chatbots and messaging; Nextdoor for brand engagement in local neighborhoods; and MovableInk for dynamic email marketing.
Data and Analytics
Throughout the course of 2020, we launched refurbished and updated versions of our local page analytics reports, search ranking and keyword distribution reports, location health reports, data exporting tools including scheduled exports, and review response trend reports. Clients can now configure a range of email notifications and export data in a variety of formats.
The data Brandify gathers for mutli-location clients, related to consumer engagement on Google and other local search properties, represents a statistically significant sample of consumer interactions with chain and franchise stores in the U.S. Understanding this, we wanted to create a data repository that would help us understand and report on consumer trends and offer insight to our clients as to how their stores are performing against industry benchmarks. We turned to Google’s BigQuery and Data Studio as platforms for aggregating and reporting on this data, and throughout 2020 we added to a repository which now contains approximately 354 trillion data points related to searches, views, actions, and other signs of consumer engagement with our clients’ digital profiles, across 35 industry verticals. We used this data during the course of the year to release a series of research studies, published on Street Fight, that highlighted consumer trends in light of the pandemic.
As of November 2020, all Brandify clients were successfully migrated to a fully rebuilt and updated version of the Brandify platform, and were able to gain access to improvements in stability and scalability as well as newer features like our Topic Monitor, Smart Review Response, advanced sentiment analysis reporting, and rebuilt and expanded social posting tools. This milestone was the culmination of a large effort that ensures the Brandify platform is making use of the best contemporary technologies.
New Brandify API Infrastructure
January 2021 has already been a busy month for product and infrastructure development at Brandify. We’ll provide a full list of details in our next product update, but we wanted to preview one item that will be of special interest to clients who use our location management API to power location data in their own applications. At the end of this month, we will consolidate our two location endpoints, api.slippymap.com and api.brandify.com, and point both to a newly updated infrastructure that makes use of the stability and scalability of the Google Cloud Platform. Existing endpoints will still work just the same after the transition, but they will point to the new, consolidated codebase. Feel free to test your API integrations using alphaapi.brandify.com prior to the transition, and as always, share any questions or feedback via your account or client success contacts.