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“Conversations with brands and consumers will be run by machines”

New York, December 2nd, 2016

SWARM DigitalNew York City based SWARM has built an impressive portfolio of over 50 products for web, mobile, wearables, machine learning, IoT and Apple TV.

Founded in 2013, SWARM has a variety of clients ranging from young startups to enterprise companies and major media brands. The team’s focus is building products that scale, with emphasis on robust code, beautiful designs, close collaboration, tight feedback loops, and transparency.

We spoke to one of its founders, Jacek Grebski, to find out how does SWARM ‘solves digital’ for its clients and how did all get started.

“Three and a half years ago, while working as the head of marketing for a data visualization company. I got on a bus to South by Southwest (SXSW), an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festival, held in Austin Texas. There I had the good fortune of meeting my two business partners Valerie Lisyansky and Somya Jain,” recalls Grebski.

“At this point we were all in different positions but for whatever reason starting working on a project in Austin, that quickly received quite a bit of fanfare from news and media outlets as well as the tech community.”

“We had such a good time doing this that upon returning to NYC we began exploring ways in which we could take the same type of quick product iteration and execution that we did at SXSW and apply it to clients.

“Other than that, none of us have traditional agency experience, for better or worse.”

Are there online publications, professionals, industry leaders you follow?

Rick Webb founder of the Barbarian Group is an advisor and a friend, he’s always incredibly helpful when you’re hitting your head against a wall.

In your opinion, what ingredients are key to create a successful digital campaign?

Working with our client base we’ve found campaigns to be largely outdated and often out of touch with today’s consumers. Millennials, GenX’ers don’t want to watch ads, they don’t want to see browser popups, they want brands to provide them with experiences that better their lives in some way, they want digital products – this is the same digital transformation that the McKinsey’s and Accenture’s of the world are talking about, and why Fortune 2000 companies are looking to models pioneered by start-ups to fuel their own innovation initiatives.

So when someone says campaign, at SWARM we see product, whether it’s a mobile app, a VR experience, something in the wearables space, or a machine learning middle ware, the one thing that always permeates is a user cantered focus and approach to product.

What this then translates into is an application, for example an Apple TV application that utilizes a machine learning recommendation engine to provide viewers with content that is relevant to them. This then becomes not only a better experience for the consumer, but also longer in app time for the media company, and in turn more ads served and higher revenues.

To me, the biggest difference between our approach and that of a traditional agency is that our impact is directly quantifiable in terms of ROI or at least expected IRR.

What is your personal definition of creativity?

Being able to bring to light something completely new and have it make an impact.

Please list a few of your favourite digital brands:

Snapchat, Spotify, Quidd, Vice Golf.

Which cities outside where you live interest you creatively?

Barcelona, Berlin, Cape Town, Warsaw, Moscow, Tokyo

What do you like doing in your free time?

I’m an avid sailor, there’s just something about the wind and the salt that can’t be explained, and when it’s too cold to sail, I make record music.

Which are the most important Social Media Web Tools your agency works with?

In our world, Omniture, Aws, Azure ML cloud.

How does your agency work with Social Media?

We don’t employ people to work directly on “Social Media”, instead we have engineers that work on and tweak our machine learning algorithms to maximize the efficacy of our clients’ social media integrations. And in terms of sales, this is just an add on service we offer them when working on other projects.

Friday at the office.

Una foto publicada por SWARM (@_swarm_) el

Can you tell us about a project you worked on and that was especially successful?

Brand building is more important than people think, however, it is time consuming. The easiest way to cultivate a brand identity is through social media feeds – the channels your audience is already engaged with.

To solve this time and resources problem for our clients, and ourselves, we decided to build a hack. This hack would automate the content produced on our Twitter account in order to drive engagement. It also works on Facebook.

Before implementing the hack we were seeing about 5.3k impressions of our tweets over a 30 day period with approximately 1.5k real twitter followers, almost no re-tweets, and very few link clicks.

Using Reddit as a source, ‘If This Then That’ (IFTTT)s a connector and Twitter as the channel we saw our impressions soar up to 89.9k. We increased from 1 to 116 re-tweets.

To see the step by step visit:

Who is in charge of executing a 360 Social media strategy?

The amazing lines of code we’ve written 🙂

How do you imagine Social Media will work in the future?

Content delivery will be entirely personalized and done through robots and machine learning and artificial intelligence. Conversations with brands / consumers will be run by machines.

Name a challenge your team is currently facing


What piece of advice would you give a recent grad looking to work in digital marketing?

Learn JavaScript. It will help you quickly run experiments and allow you to pull and manipulate data. In the future, data will be of ever growing importance in the world of marketing, and it already is.


By Geny Caloisi.

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