SnakBlox, Out of Stealth, Measures Social Data for Hearst Digital

10/28/13Follow @jpruth

There must be a way to get tons more customers by marketing across social media—at least that is what many brands hope for as they double down on this sector.

New York-based SnakBlox says its technology puts dollar signs on “likes,” social impressions, and app installations. The company emerged from stealth late last week with a social media management platform used by agencies, brands, and publishers such as Hearst Digital. The data and research SnakBlox gathers shows companies how effective their social media and digital ad campaigns are and points out what they can improve, says CEO and founder Nikhil Pai.

The vast amount of data that can be gathered from social media, though, can be overwhelming, he says. Some marketers may experience what he calls dashboard fatigue from trying to figure out what all the metrics means. “That’s where a lot of our brainpower is focused,” he says.

The company sees its platform as an analytical tool in the style of Mint.com, but for measuring the return on investment for campaigns in social media and focusing targeted ads. Brands can also use the platform to create apps to coax more people to become their customers.

SnakBlox is available under a freemium model with its Facebook measurement tool free for brands with more than 100,000 fans. Companies have to pay up if they want the version that works with Google Analytics, Instagram, and Twitter.

Pai says his company’s technology identifies which activities—such as a consumer “liking” a product—are the most profitable. That gives brands, he says, more perspective on how to target their efforts. SnakBlox also creates profiles of target audiences to help businesses maximize their investments in apps, digital ads, and branded social communities. Predictions and recommendations based on social data are at the forefront of Pai’s roadmap for SnakBlox. “The architecture is set up to focus on where the brand is spending their investment dollars,” he says. Determining where and when brands gain traction with customers in social media can help justify maintaining a company Facebook page, for example.

Nikhil PaiPutting out apps and interactive features in the social world can be done subtly through the SnakBlox platform. Pai says the consumer-facing elements of the dashboard can be white-labeled to blend in with existing content. The folks at Hearst Digital already put SnakBlox to work, Pai says, when they created an online survey tool to conduct a study in American politics. The survey was part of a project with NBC News and Esquire to determine the “New American Center.”

The results of that survey were released earlier this month, Pai says, measuring where responders say they stand in the current political spectrum. SnakBlox helped get the survey up, made the content interactive, and tied in the data. One of the objectives was to use the study online at media websites and social spaces.

Prior to founding SnakBlox, Pai was a technology investment banker with Deutsche Bank, specializing in mergers and acquisitions in software and digital media. Then he became entrepreneur in residence with venture development firm [212]Media, which backs the company.

Founded in 2008, SnakBlox started out as a gaming syndication platform—a sort of WordPress for gaming, Pai says. The company built an infrastructure for delivering and supporting Flash games, he says, including a process to quickly launch Flash games on top of the platform with analytics tool that can measure activity. “We transformed that technology into the SnakBlox platform,” Pai says. Two years ago the company pivoted from gaming to measuring social media interactions, he says.

The market is still figuring out how best to sell to brands in the social sphere, Pai says, but he sees a chance, by using big data, to be more effective at building relationships with customers compared with older digital promotions. “A display ad is anonymous; it’s about a main impression, a click, and a conversion,” he says. “After that you predominantly don’t know about that user again.”

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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