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Machine learning and AI have become buzzwords that are being overused. But they’re also real technologies that are having and will continue to have a meaningful impact on marketing over time.

Yext is now bringing some of these capabilities to business listings and local data management. The company is adding three new features to its “Knowledge Manager” portfolio of services for multilocation enterprises and SMBs:

  • Structured markup for events and event data syndication.
  • A “knowledge assistant” that allows listings updates via SMS and Facebook Messenger.
  • WeChat integration for customers doing business in China.

Using schema for events, Yext will now manage and distribute events-related content for its customers in search results. Below is what it looks like in a screen shot provided by the company.

Marc Ferrentino, Yext’s chief strategy officer, told me over the phone that just as many multilocation brands have to outsource location data management, they also wanted a “single repository and source of truth for for events.” And beyond Google, Yext will syndicate events information to Facebook, Eventbrite, Eventful and other relevant sites.

Screen Shot 2017 11 01 at 7.05.23 AM

More interesting to me is the company’s new “Knowledge Assistant,” which allows authorized personnel within organizations to use  text messaging or Facebook Messenger to update business listings and related data (e.g., hours of operation) without logging into the Yext site or app. Ferrentino explained that the system will also proactively reach out to stimulate updates. For example, if holidays are coming up and holiday hours are implicated, the Knowledge Assistant will prompt users to update hours.

This proactive capability can also be used to capture enhanced information and to do a range of other things, making location data management much more “conversational.” This capability could be especially useful for small business customers, which are primarily serviced by Yext’s third-party partners.

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Finally, the company has added WeChat Mini-Programs integration. This is essentially store-finder information for WeChat Yext retail customers that do business in China or seek to attract Mandarin language speakers.

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