In the old days, people yelled at their TVs.
In the digital age, people can tweet their opinion to a television show.
And the show just might tweet back with a special offer or advertisement.
That’s the sweet spot of an Austin-based startup called Mass Relevance.
“It’s a growing trend to integrate social conversations into content streams and advertising,” said Sam Decker, the company’s founder and CEO.
Recently, Mass Relevance worked with Paramount Pictures for the release of Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol movie with a “Flock to unlock” social media campaign. People who shared content about the movie on Twitter or Facebook earned a reward. They got to watch a special clip of the movie in advance of its release. That kind of campaign can increase brand awareness while engaging an audience, Decker said.
Mass Relevance, which has 20 employees, now has 100 clients that use its real-time social media curation platform. It also signed a deal with Twitter in November that officially made Mass Relevance Twitter’s first curation partner licensed to re-syndicate Twitter content.
“We’ve been working with them over the years, working with them in parallel,” Decker said. “For us, it just formalized the relationship.”
In addition to publishing Twitter content, content publishers working with Mass Relevance can earn money from the content through sponsorships and advertising.
“Media companies are tied to creating and curating an audience,” Decker said. “Twitter can be part of their audience to drive advertising dollars.”
Mass Relevance’s platform allows content publishers to create new revenue streams around curated and integrated experiences on TV, web, mobile and large screen displays. Mass Relevance’s platform allows publishers to aggregate; filter and moderate content in real time and then broadcast it to an audience.
Mass Relevance’s clients include NBC Sports, NFL Football, Cisco, Samsung, and Pepsi and media companies like CNN, Boston Global, New York Times and Washington Post. Sports teams using the platform include the New York Giants, San Francisco Giants and the Boston Celtics.
President Obama even used Mass Relevance’s platform when he did his Twitter Town Hall last July. And television shows like NBC’s The Voice and Fox’s The X-Factor used Mass Relevance’s platform to get real-time feedback on air from the at home audience.
“The whole idea here is there are more and more people participating and creating real-time content,” Decker said.
But the advertising networks have not kept pace with new ways of delivering content, Decker said.
“This is just the first inning for media companies to create much more integrated social experiences for their audiences,” Decker said. “They haven’t maximized the potential of the platform yet.”
Working after hours in Austin coffee shops, developers Barry Cox, Brian Dainton and Eric Falcao started TweetRiver, a social media curation platform, in 2009, according to Mass Relevance’s “Our Story.” Then Decker, who had left his job as chief marketing officer at Bazaarvoice, joined them. All of them became founders of what evolved to become Mass Relevance except Cox who remains a strategic advisor.
A year ago, Mass Relevance raised $2.2 million in a large seed stage round of funding from Austin Ventures, Floodgate and angel investors.
In 2012, Mass Relevance plans to seek another round of funding, but Decker declined to state the amount. The funds will go to expand Mass Relevance’s business.
“We’re looking to roughly triple in growth,” Decker said.
Mass Relevance plans to hire 20 to 30 people in 2012 including developers, sales people and client account managers.
“We’re nearing profitability and forecast to be so next year,” Decker said. “We’ve proven out the model and now it’s about scaling it and growing it much bigger.”
Innovation in Austin: Sam Decker from Springbox on Vimeo.