Semantic technology start-up Bluefin Labs has begun testing tools for marketers to monitor and measure TV's influence via social media.
"Marketers and TV networks are looking to us to understand how their audiences are responding to ads and shows on TV, and we are able to provide them with data in near real-time," said Deb Roy, MIT professor and CEO of Bluefin Labs.
Initial partners from the worlds of marketing and media include Best Buy Co., Inc., Mars, Humana, Razorfish, SS+K, Hill Holliday, Dentsu and Fox Sports.
Bluefin plans to debut the general availability of its first product this summer, and offer advertisers and agencies an automated platform for deriving insights from the interplay between TV and social media. The company says its technology can interpret audience responses and pinpoint what people are reacting to down to specific scenes, characters and single words.
"We are solving a problem that has eluded TV for more than 60 years: how to measure actual audience engagement and not just simple media consumption," Roy said.
Indeed, Bluefin Labs believes it can demonstrate exactly how TV shows and commercials affect audience response, sentiment and intent. If accurate, marketers can therefore use Bluefin's data to understand audience engagement with TV ads.
The data could also provide them with a view into which TV networks -- even which specific TV shows -- garner the highest levels of audience engagement via social media response.
Officially launched in February, Bluefin says its technology platform has a view into over 3 billion public-facing social media comments each month, tied to a continuously growing video fingerprint archive of over 200,000 TV show and commercial airings.
The platform ingests and takes video "fingerprints" of 43 U.S. TV broadcast and cable networks currently, with plans to achieve full coverage of all shows and commercials in the national market by early 2012.
Building its staff, Tom Thai recently joined Bluefin as vice president of marketing and business development. Previously, Thai led marketing teams at Google and CBS Interactive. Most recently, he was vice president of strategic development at AOL. Also, Anjali Midha recently joined the team as director of customer insights. Prior to Bluefin, Midha served as vice president of strategy and analysis at Digitas.
Backed by Redpoint Ventures, Lerer Ventures and a grant from the National Science Foundation, Bluefin Labs has raised over $8 million since mid-2009.