Offerpop Gives Marketers Tools to Leverage Facebook and Twitter

8/6/12Follow @jpruth

Marketers are eager to know what users of Facebook and Twitter are interested in so they can get an inside track on how to pitch them more effectively. Enter Offerpop. The New York-based company has developed a platform that lets marketers create brand campaigns on those popular social networks, as well as to gather information about topics and activities that are attracting consumers. The three-year-old company has thus far raised nearly $4 million according to Mark Cooper, co-founder and chief marketing officer. “We’ll probably close a round of financing by this fall,” he says.

For a subscription fee, Offerpop’s platform lets users create marketing campaigns such as photo contests, sweepstakes, and special discount offers that appear on Facebook and Twitter. Marketers simply choose the appropriate app from a Web-based dashboard, add the text and graphics they want, and then the platform puts it all together automatically. “We handle a lot of the complexities on the back end,” Cooper says.

The campaigns appear on the users’ brand sites on Facebook and Twitter. Then, if consumers opt in, the brands can track information like the types of offers and other links related to the brands on those social networks that they click on.

Cooper says such features have attracted major brands to Offerpop, including Unilever, Wal-Mart, American Express, Viacom, Disney, Gap, American Eagle Outfitters, and Microsoft. Online fashion and e-commerce represent a large portion of Offerpop’s business, he adds. “We do a lot of work with Birchbox, Rent the Runway, and Gilt Groupe,” he says.

Offerpop released the Twitter version of the platform in 2010 and landed car maker Audi as a client. According to Cooper, Audi used the platform in conjunction with a marketing campaign to promote a new convertible advertised during the 2011 Super Bowl. After people tweeted with a hashtag associated with the campaign, Audi chose the top ten responses and those Twitter users were given the chance to earn a top prize by getting the most followers to also participate.

A version of the platform that works with Facebook followed in 2011. Offerpop is now develping an updated photo contest app that will run on Facebook and allow consumers to upload images from Instagram and Twitter, Cooper says.

The lion’s share of Offerpop’s business comes from helping marketers leverage Facebook and Twitter more efficiently, however Cooper says as other social networks arise, his company will explore new opportunities to expand the platform. “Pinterest is something we’re interested in as well,” he says.

Currently Offerpop has about 40,000 customer accounts, 30 percent of which come from outside the U.S. The platform includes one-click language translation for 17 languages. Cooper says that more than 3,500 marketing campaigns run on his company’s platform per day.

Offerpop plans to add a feature that will let marketers see which fans are the most active with their respective brands. “If I keep interacting with content from Nike that’s about running they’re going to have a very clear perspective that running is what I’m interested in,” Cooper says. And the company is developing an app called Fan Stream, which will let marketers track the popularity of specific content on their brand’s Facebook pages in real time., much like media companies use Twitter to track trending topics during broadcasts and live events. “Fan Stream will enable that kind of behavior on Facebook,” he says. Offerpop ran a private beta of the app with MTV during the Video Music Awards in June. According to Cooper, Universal Music is using the app on pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen’s brand page.

Cooper and co-founders Wendell Lansford and Prakash Mishra have been tech entrepreneurs since 1997, when they founded Sitebridge, a New York developer of Web-based software for sales and service organizations. Sitebridge was acquired by eGain, a Sunnyvale, CA, provider of customer-service infrastructure for e-commerce in 1999.

Over time, the trio went their separate ways. Cooper served as senior director of product marketing for ESPN’s mobile business. Lansford, who was CEO of Sitebridge, founded and was CEO of startup Systinet, which was acquire by Mercury Interactive. Mishra was CEO of Spoken Hub, which provides automated outbound calling services used by political campaigns and companies.

Cooper, Mishra, and Lansford eventually got the band back together to co-found Offerpop in 2009 after watching companies such as Buddy Media succeed in the social-media marketing space. “We saw an opportunity to create a very easy to use self-service platform for marketers,” Cooper says.

Offerpop’s backers include Windcrest Partners, which also financed Sitebridge. Cooper says Offerpop wants to raise north of $2.5 million in its next round and hopes to be in the black by late 2013. “We’re pretty confident about reaching break even towards the end of next year,” he says.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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