Co-founder and CEO Roy Rodenstein admitted that social marketing and advertising is “a noisy space,” but he argued that TrueLens fits into a different bucket than most of the bigger names in the industry. First, there’s the social marketing world, where brands can run social marketing campaigns and collect social data, but they find the data “aren’t really actionable from the core marketing function.” Then there’s the display advertising market, which targets banner ads on a number of different data points. And lastly, there’s the market that TrueLens is aiming for.
“We are focused in the world of the core marketers — analog brands who own and use and leverage the customer database, the database of the people who have actually registered as users,” Rodenstein said.
The Socialgraphics product complements a brand’s existing customer database, filling it out with information pulled from social networks about customers’ brand preferences, purchase intent, and social media influence. For example, it could tell an apparel company which customers have an expressed an interest in going skiing this winter, and the company could send an email specifically targeted for them, with messages and offers for ski-appropriate clothing.
The funding round was led by Google Ventures, with funding from Charles River Ventures, Common Angels, 500 Startups, Boston Seed, and angel investors including HubSpot CTO Dharmesh Shah, Tremor SVP Waikit Lau, InfoChimps co-founder Nick Ducoff, and John Simon, former board member at BzzAgent and m-Qube.
““Mining vast amounts of social data to make it meaningful for marketers is a large opportunity,” said Google Ventures partner Rich Miner in the funding press release. He also cited the team’s experience — Rodenstein and Chief Scientist Rebecca Xiong are both alumni of the MIT Media Lab and co-founders of Going.com, which was acquired by AOL (TechCrunch’s parent company).
TrueLens said its customers already include Neiman Marcus, TaylorMade-Adidas, Game Show Network, Force Factor nutritional supplements, and DODOcase mobile accessories, plus “a Fortune 15 bank and a top global credit company.” The next steps, Rodenstein said, include building up more case studies about how the data can be used, figuring out which industries to target (retail is an obvious choice), and continuing to improve the technology itself.