SocMetrics Reveals “TrueLens” Marketing Tech and Google VC Round

12/3/12Follow @gthuang

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comes from publicly shared comments across a dozen platforms, including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and YouTube. Rodenstein says TrueLens takes a hard line on consumer privacy.

“We don’t advocate that marketers target things at an individual level,” he says, adding that the intent is not for brands to send personalized offers to individuals. “We’re trying to bring marketing down to 1-to-1,000 or 1-to-5,000 segments.” (I took this to mean the trends and preferences that come to light would be used to design campaigns that try to reach certain demographics—for example, people who buy skiing and golf products and talk about it on Twitter—rather than individuals.)

In other words, TrueLens is trying to help big businesses segment their customer bases in ways that will actually move their needle. “Brands would tell us, ‘This influence thing is really interesting. Can you tell me which customers or leads or prospects are most influential, so I can prioritize?’ It’s a very hard problem. It took us a year of learning from the market,” Rodenstein says.

So TrueLens hooks directly into companies’ internal marketing and customer databases, identifying groups of people who are influential, what their purchasing intent is (whether they’re in the market for ski or golf apparel, say), how much affinity they have for certain brands, and so on. Rodenstein calls this “enriching their database.” (There does seem to be a slippery slope in terms of privacy, but marketers already have a lot of information on you; TrueLens just adds public data to that. By comparison, the world of online display ads feels sleazier.) TrueLens also provides a Web interface to display patterns for marketers to glean insights from.

The approach sounds a bit similar to Quant5, another Cambridge-based marketing tech startup; but Quant5 is more focused on analytics, and it’s going after different kinds of customers. Meanwhile, Constant Contact, HubSpot, and Unica/IBM are all established local leaders in digital marketing. But a bigger player to watch is Salesforce.com, which has acquired both Radian6 and Buddy Media and is making strong moves in social-media marketing and sales.

For now, TrueLens is targeting big companies and brands, and its customers include Neiman Marcus, TaylorMade (a division of Adidas), and Game Show Network, as well as a large bank and credit-card company. The startup has a dozen employees, with plenty of room to grow—and plenty of time to start taking on the big boys.

It certainly won’t be easy. As Rodenstein says, “Everyone is interested in the intersection of social and marketing.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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