Bluefin Labs Provides Analysis of Social Media Response to TV

Grounded in 15 years of cognitive science and machine learning research at the MIT Media Lab, this startup is offering tools to help marketers see audience response to mass media. And the $6M in Series-A funding it just closed is bound to help.

Bluefin Labs unveiled technology today to discover and analyze what people say via social media about the shows and ads they watch on television in real time.

The technology, currently in pilot with several global brands, agencies and media companies, lets marketers see audience response to mass media, providing insight to develop measurably more targeted and responsive campaigns.

Built upon deep machine learning principles developed from over 15 years of MIT Media Lab research. Bluefin recently closed a $6M round of Series-A funding led by Redpoint Ventures.

Bluefin Labs was founded in 2008 by Deb Roy and Michael Fleischman as an off-shoot of their research at the MIT Media Lab. Roy, a tenured professor at MIT who pioneered research on human communication using massive data sets and cognitive modeling, has taken leave from MIT to head the Bluefin team. Fleischman, President & CTO of Bluefin developed the algorithms that power Bluefin technology together with Roy after completing his Ph.D. in machine learning at MIT.

Roy and Fleischman joined forces with technology entrepreneur Frank Moss (MIT Media Lab Director, former CEO of Tivoli Systems) and media entrepreneur Brian Bedol (founder and former CEO, ESPN Classic and CBS College Sports) to transition the company from research prototypes to a scalable technology platform tuned to the needs of the media industry.

Below is a portion of an audience response heatmap generated by Bluefin. Click the image for a full-size version or interact with the heatmap here.

“A chasm is growing between mass media, where brands spend hundreds of billions each year to reach large audiences, and social media, where audiences share response and shape public opinion at lightning speeds. Unless companies learn how to integrate social media response tightly with their mass media marketing, they risk losing control of their brands,” said Bluefin founder and CEO Deb Roy. “Bluefin’s platform radically reduces the cost and complexity of mapping social chatter to TV content in real time and at scale.”

Geoff Yang, founding partner at Redpoint Ventures, has joined Roy, Fleischman, Moss, and Bedol on Bluefin’s Board of Directors. Notable angel investors include Brian Bedol (Managing Director, Bedrock Venture Partners), Jim Pallotta (Raptor fund; co-owner, Boston Celtics), Jonathan Kraft (President, Kraft Group and New England Patriots), Dan Gilbert (founder and chairman, Quicken Loans; majority owner, Cleveland Cavaliers), Kenneth Lerer (Lerer Ventures, co-founder Huffington Post), Jeff Samberg (Acadia Woods), John Fogelman (Board Member, William Morris Endeavor). The company was bootstrapped with grants from the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research program.

“We’re seeing people talk increasingly through social media about what they see on television,” said Shiv Singh, head of digital at PepsiCo Beverages America. “Bluefin’s ability to directly connect these conversations back to their source on TV could be a game-changer for brands looking for new ways to discover and engage key audiences in real-time.”