Newly launched internet marketing technology provider Hydra adopted a cloud-based solution to track and analyse the language used about its customers’ products on the web. The company launched its One platform using the Windows Azure cloud operating system, Microsoft SQL Azure, and Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in. Because of the scalability of Windows Azure, Hydra is delivering results to customers in 20 minutes that would have taken up to three weeks by traditional methods.
Hydra, a provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology, was established in 2011 in the U.K. With offices in London and New York, the company is a standalone business from the founders of Greenlight, a leading independent search and social marketing firm.
Hydra wanted to develop a new platform to help internet marketers monitor, report, and participate in the conversations that customers are having about their brands online—whether on social networks or through references to them on search engines. To validate this proposition, Hydra carried out a survey of more than 300 U.K.-based digital marketers. A third of respondents said less than 50 per cent of their needs are met by their current tools. More than 50 per cent of those replying said they were uncertain about what words or expressions being used in the market were worth spending time and money on further research.
Martyn Jobber, Chief Executive Officer, Hydra, says: “Most companies that are active in natural search, paid search, and social media could be more efficient in aggregating data about their products. This would lead to an increase in return on their digital spend. However, collating large data sets to inform strategy can be complex and time consuming using traditional means.”
The One platform aggregates large data sets and suggests ways businesses can connect with customers in whatever language and through whichever channel they wish to use. Jobber says: “The One platform from Hydra defines this concept as ‘phrase marketing,’ and delivers insights on which digital marketers can take action to target prospective customers more effectively.”
In addition to phrase marketing, the One platform contains analysis tools that give its customers insight into competitor strategies. Its recommendation feature for key words ensures digital marketers gain intelligence about the best keyword-to-channel combinations to define actions for each of those channels.
Hydra wanted a hosted cloud-based solution for the One platform that would scale quickly to meet customers’ changing requirements for analysing large data sets. Jobber says: “Our solution will require periods of large data processing followed by lulls in data volume. It was important for us to find a partner that would allow us to scale up and down without incurring undue cost for our customers.” The SaaS model was ideal for the new business because it required little upfront investment or capital expenditure.
In its review of the market, Hydra considered implementing Rackspace Hosting or Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, but decided instead to work with the Windows Azure operating system for the cloud. With various Microsoft technologies already in place—and a need for the easy scalability of Windows Azure—it was a logical decision for the firm to make.
Jobber says: “We needed to go to market fast, and without the burden of investment in in-house infrastructure. Windows Azure is a highly agile solution that scales easily with changes in demand for monitoring of key words and phrases, which can range from thousands to millions of words.” The solution also uses Microsoft SQL Azure for the database and the Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in for the user interface.
Jobber values the reliability of Microsoft technology for the cloud. “We were looking for a robust solution, because we need to offer our customers a service-level agreement that won’t be broken,” he says. Customers already signed up by Hydra for the early adopter programme of the One platform include retail chain Debenhams, Santander financial services, and British Sky Broadcasting.
Hydra is achieving high levels of performance from its One platform. By using Windows Azure, setting up customers with large data sets that would have taken three weeks by traditional methods are available to them in just 20 minutes. Jobber says: “We’ve listened to digital marketers’ needs and the One platform is our response. It’s unique to the market and has been specifically developed and customised to address the pain points they’ve told us they face.”
Customer with 50,000 key words gets results in just 20 minutes. In one benchmarking test, a Hydra customer uploaded 50,000 key words into the One platform. Analysis was available in just 20 minutes. Jobber says: “To achieve results of that kind would have taken three weeks using a physical infrastructure, taking into account procurement of hardware and required setup. Without Windows Azure, such a fast reaction would not be possible.”
Cloud-based solution cuts the burden of collating marketing data. Through the One platform, the combined data from natural search, paid search, and social media is collected easily into a single view of the information. This means customers no longer have to employ several people doing the same set of tasks to analyse very large data sets in different ways.
One platform unifies fragmented work flows. Jobber says: “The One platform brings synergy to fragmented work streams. Huge data volumes are now delivered through the Silverlight interface for users, helping them to understand references in search engines or conversations about them in social media.”This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.