COOPERATIZE: The startup behind your next travel decision
Inspired by a personal desire to connect people, Roger Wu, co-founder of Cooperatize, created a powerful platform where brands and agencies get in contact with influencers to create content focused on tourism. Check out his exclusive interview to Beeleev.
Cooperatize is a B2B (business to business) platform connecting influencers to brands wishing to tell stories. Combining sponsored articles and artificial intelligence, Cooperatize help brands to craft messages to increase the word-of mouth awareness about touristic destinations.
Roger Wu started his entrepreneurial journey by creating Klickable TV, an interactive application to interact with ads and programs watched on TV. In 2013, having an office at WeWork, he started asking companies around him how they got people to learn about their business. The usual answer included Facebook, Google ads and “reaching out to bloggers”. As connecting to influencers proved specially problematical, he started to look for a better way to do it.
“That was the first seed of what got us thinking about creating a better way to connect content creators and brands. Today, we’ve fallen into the travel space and we are connecting tourism boards and travel brands with travel writers, bloggers, and influencers. The interesting point about travel is that we are talking about specific places, not competitive products.”
Cooperatize reflects the passion of its co-founders to bring people together. “I love connecting people. But how to turn that into a business? The personal and friendly way I introduce companies to writers help them to see each other in a positive manner”
Around a decade ago, a story about the city of New York published in the newspaper USA Today could create a trend, with several families adopting the travel destiny for vacations. Today, a conventional media achieves just a fraction of the audience. “We’re so spoiled with personalization that a generic story doesn’t mean anything”, says Wu. Cooperatize comes in to connect one brand with a diverse portfolio of influencers able to tell unique versions of their own experience.
A little help from AI
Cooperatize uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to connect brands with writers efficiently. The process follows this order:
- Picking & choosing: Having an affinity for the destination is the most relevant criteria for choosing a blogger. Once all the bloggers apply for a job, the brand selects the most appropriate profiles.
- Data analysis: Data and statistics of each blogger are visible on the platform, such as the number of followers and level of engagement.
- Identification process: “A surprising number of people don’t realize this because they see a person and assume their following look the same. This is where our identification process comes in.”
- Content creation & scores: The content goes through an AI platform that reads and comes up with a sentiment analysis, engagement and quality scores, in addition to the reputation of the blogger.
Once the content is approved, each story gains a tracking code. With that, bloggers know how many views are needed to reach their goals. “It’s great if they can achieve their aim with only one tweet, but it is more likely they are going to publish on Twitter and Facebook a bunch of times, add the topic in newsletters etc. “Let’s say that a story is not getting engagement, but an article about museums gets many clicks. Then, it’s possible to understand what drives engagement.” This kind of data is effective and complements the “click through rate”.
“In today’s world of infinite content, simply creating content doesn’t mean anything anymore. You need to be constantly pushing your story out or people won’t see it.”
On average it takes 120 days after reading an article for a person to book a trip, according to Wu. Because of that, after the content is created and the tracking code is put in place, Cooperatize uses retargeting. They retarget the audience through cookies, displaying ads on banners or social media. “Even though most people exhibit banner blindness, you notice when you get retargeted.”
Finally, a conversion company analyses conversions and trace them back to the original story. “Before, destinations would run a bunch of different ads that would result in an increase in bookings of hotels or flights, but would not identify the exactly reason for the trend. Now we can say we know the exact story driving the movement.”
Founded in New York, Cooperatize has customers on every continent except for Africa and Australia. “There are cultural norms, the challenge of dealing with currency exchanges, but it has been very interesting. During Web 1.0 there was a German eBay and Japan eBay. Now there is just Pinterest.com or SnapChat.com. Sites launch globally instead of being localized.”
Tips for Entrepreneurs
No matter what language you speak, where you live or what religion you practice, everybody has similar motivations, hopes and dreams. We need to get people to their destination and to do that by telling the place’s history. Everyone understands the power of a story and it’s the same across the world. What is special about the travel sector is that every single product, or destination, has a different story.
Everyone understands the power of a story and it’s the same across the world. What’s special about the travel sector is that every single product, or destination, has a different story.”
A second advice is to stay humble. Admitting you’re not familiar with something and asking for help will take you much further. Many entrepreneurs see this as a weakness. Asking for help may be hard, but you’ll need to be humble and not afraid of ask when necessary.