Online marketplace RedBalloon is demanding greater transparency and accountability from all the agencies it works with following the implementation of an AI-based marketing platform called Albert.

According to the company, Albert was also able to reduce the cost of acquiring a customer to RedBalloon by more than 25 per cent in less than 30 days, demonstrating its capacity to reduce overall costs by north of 40 per cent.

RedBalloon deployed Albert on 1 June this year and its parent company, Big Red Group (BRG) has secured the exclusive rights to distribute the platform to companies in Australia and New Zealand (more on that later) so its little wonder they are singing its praises.

Which-50 first came across Albert earlier this year at the Shoptalk retail trade show in Las Vegas. Part of its pitch is giving companies more control of media buying which had traditionally sat with agencies.

We asked Naomi Simson, co-founder of BCG and RedBalloon, if using Albert has altered RedBalloon’s relationship with agencies.

“Yes. We have requested greater transparency and accountability from every agency we work with,” Simson said.

“No longer do we have agencies on expensive retainers ticking over month after month, delivering arguable value to our business and the businesses we represent. We have a responsibility to the almost 2000 businesses we work with to drive their marketing dollars as hard and as efficiently as we can. And if agencies are not the way to do this, we will and have looked at other options via the Albert technology.”

Simson said RedBalloon isn’t reducing its marketing budgets but wants its dollars to work harder.

Created by Israeli company Albert Technologies (formerly Adgorithms) in 2010, Albert is designed to become a member of a brand’s marketing team by wading through masses of data, delivering insights and autonomously acting on those insights across channels and devices.

The deal takes Naomi Simson directly into the martech business. The agreement entitles the Big Red Group to distribute Albert to third-party media companies, across entire supplier chains, as well as to direct-to-consumer retailers, under the registered business Big Albert AI Pty Ltd.

The newly formed Big Red Group provides management and services to its subsidiaries RedBalloon, Big Albert AI, Redii, Wrapped and The Huddle, and was co-founded by Simson and Group CEO David Anderson, who acquired 50 per cent of the RedBalloon business in June.

From an operational perspective, the creation of the BRG has involved the dissolution of RedBalloon’s traditional marketing function, and centralising services such as finance, analysis, technology and HR across the group to drive efficiencies, collaboration and commercial outcomes.

“Our marketing efforts now operate in a similar fashion to an agency – we have a creative services team who work as a shared service across the Group and are briefed in to create campaigns. We still call in agency muscle when needed at peak times, but as a rule we back the intelligence, creativity and brand knowledge of our own people to deliver value to our partners,” Simson said.

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