Horizon Media Invests in Startup Blab to Predict Social Trends

Former Agency Execs Test Tech to Anticipate Conversations in Social Media

By Published on .

Most Popular

Horizon Media has made a seed investment in a $1 million round of funding for Blab, a social-media technology company that promises to use machine learning to predict conversations before they start.

Like a lot of social startups, Blab is tracking what's happening in social media among defined interest groups. But here's where it gets interesting: they say they can predict what those groups are about to talk about, giving marketers a head start in reacting.

"This works well for brands that have multiple targets and want to target based on interests as opposed to demographic," said co-founder and CEO and former Publicis exec Randy Browning.

The founders of Blab -- who have agency and tech backgrounds -- wanted to make a product that put marketers back in the driver's seat of conversations, something that they had lost with the advent of social media, Mr. Browning explains. The technology identifies those leading conversations within groups and anticipates themes before they spread. The idea is to give marketers a bigger window to react so they can get ahead of trends rather than join them after the fact.

The 10-employee, Seattle-based startup is in early testing with 12 clients. The founders have self-funded development for 18 months. Horizon's investment is part of a seed round, which included several angels. "We are building an engine vs. a platform," said Mr. Browning. "We wanted to be able to control the development of the engine as much as possible, so we wanted to find the right investors."

The investment means Horizon clients will get first crack at the service, when it becomes available later this year. Horizon Chief Digital Officer Donnie Williams said Blab offers "data that allows us to anticipate hot topics upon which we can generate brand momentum through advertising," adding it has "media-buying technology that automatically applies the predictive data."

In addition, he sees Blab's functionality as something that is not limited to social media. Mr. Williams believes that the insights garnered from Blab's technology can be broadened in the future and used across the media landscape to create more effective and authentic advertising campaigns.

Horizon isn't known for investing in startups. In March, the company made a minority investment in a Glens Falls, NY-based television station. The deal created a 300,000-home research panel for its clients.

In this article: