SA's Colony Live opens offices in Texas

Read time 3min 20sec

Local audience engagement engine and data analytics platform Colony Live has expanded to the US, following its success in South Africa.

Colony Live is a software-as-a-service messaging platform conceptualised in 2015 by a team of South African developers. It provides a data analytics service to commercial radio stations in the country by aggregating listeners' messages from multiple channels into a single customisable dashboard.

The platform works through seven different interaction channels: SMS, e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WeChat and WhatsApp.

Interactions from the various sources are used to build a profile of each audience member interacting with the station. Users are then grouped, and through a process called MIMA, the system then matches a persona's user profiles to their online presence, allowing for the placement of relevant, focused advertising into the users everyday online browsing.

A natural choice

CEO and founder Marco Broccardo says the move was a natural choice, and has been in the pipeline for the last two years.

Although the business is technically a start-up, the company has made great strides in the SA market, boasting a R35 million turnover for the last financial year, he adds. Its services are used by 85% of South African commercial radio stations, as well as a large number of community stations including Jacaranda FM, East Coast Radio, Algoa FM, and OFM.

He says the decision to expand into other territories was made to achieve scale. "We did our investigations into all opportunities including Europe, South East Asia and New Zealand. And with 16 000 stations the US alone, it is the biggest market in radio. This meant reduced risk as well as a much larger base for prospecting."

The firm officially opened its US offices last month and aims to go live by September 2018, Broccardo continues. "Texas has the most radio stations in the US with 900 stations so it made sense to base ourselves in a state where we could meet as many local clients as possible. In addition, Austin is the fastest-growing tech hub there so as a tech business, this puts us at the heartbeat of what's happening. And the cost of living in Austin is one third of what it is in other tech hubs such as San Francisco."

Disruptive technology

Although the US market has its unique set of challenges, the company is confident the expansion will be a success, he explains. "Ours is a disruptive technology, and as such, we aim to target the second- and third-tier radio markets, the smaller groups or independents, to build and gain traction. Once we have a solid foundation, it will be far easier to convert the larger networks to buy into our methodology."

The company will start pre-commercial testing on four select stations in July, and hopes to be part of at least 100 stations by July next year, he says. "More FM (Philadelphia) and Star FM (Seattle) are the first stations to adopt Colony Live with an additional nine jumping on board towards the end of July 2018."

CEO and founder of Colony Live Marco Broccardo.
CEO and founder of Colony Live Marco Broccardo.

A "sizeable sum" has been invested in further expansion, he remarks. "We regularly add new channels as and when demand becomes known, and application programming interfaces for the channel become available. For now, other English speaking markets such as Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand will be our first go-to markets, however, as our machine learning capabilities grow, we will be able to process more languages allowing us to enter any market that has a radio footprint."

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