You can have two kids who are about the same height and who like to wear beanies, but if the wrong one gets in the car and goes to the airport, the other one might be left alone in the house with burglars. As Kate McCallister (Catherine O’Hara) learned the hard way in Home Alone (20th Century Fox, 1990), a simple headcount doesn’t say much about which kids are in the car. Sociocast, an audience data startup based in New York City, has added companies BackType, RapLeaf and OpenAmplify to its dashboard in order give publishers a closer look at their readers than they would get by simply counting unique users and page views.Â The site launched today in private Beta with $1.65 million in Series A funding from entrepreneur Dan Gilbert, who also owns the NBA team the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Dan Gilbert also funded StyleCaster, a curated fashion site, and TheMasthead, a platform for connecting publishers and advertisers. Both sites were co-founded by Albert Azout, who will serve as Sociocast’s CEO. With this third company, Azout will fill in the remaining gap in monetizing online content: the audience.
“Today’s audience data is not aligned with the potential of real-time bidding and existing behavioral segmentation techniques are outdated – a new science is needed,” said Azout in a statement. “The Sociocast platform is purpose-built to deliver rich, high performance, highly predictive segments and by securing working agreements with top-tier partners and integrating those technologies, we are able to increase publisher yield and help publishers optimize content, maximize audience revenues and gain transparency to control their data.”
The CEO is talking about a three-pronged probing of consumer activity on social media sites. On BackType, a user can type in a URL and get instant stats on where, how often and by whom a site is mentioned in the social networks. RapLeaf uses profile information such as the ages and locations of consumers and their friends to predict their behavior. OpenAmplify analyzes conversations rather than data to understand what people are looking for online using technology similar to that of another startup company, Solariat.
“Sociocast is thinking exactly the right way. Advertisers now want to buy ‘audiences,’ not just behaviors,” said Mark Redgrave, founder and CEO of OpenAmplify in a statement. By observing site visitors from multiple angles, the platform is designed to help editors make better decisions about their content and to give advertisers a greater return on their investment by pairing them with the right audience.
Sociocast’s advisory board includes Duke University professor Dan Ariely, Northeastern University professor Albert Lazslo-Barabasi, RapLeaf CEO Auren Hoffman, Wunderman COO David Sable, MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadzki and Tim Hanlon, executive vice president and managing director of VivaKi Ventures. The company will announce more partnerships later in the year.