Mass Relevance Leveraging Real-Time Content To Improve Social Ads

Sam Decker Mass Relevance ImageCertified Twitter partner Mass Relevance is a “social experience platform,” according to founder and CEO Sam Decker; it works not only with Twitter but also Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and more to incorporate real-time social content into brands’ and advertisers’ owned and paid media strategies.

“We started the company working with Twitter primarily, and we signed a partnership with them to power the license re-syndicator of Twitter content for display,” explained Decker. The company is growing, with plans to reach a headcount of around 120 employees, up from its current 93.

Decker spoke to AdExchanger about its work with advertisers, examples of how brands like Hollister use the platform, and the growth of the company.

AdExchanger: Can you give me a brief overview of Mass Relevance and the work that you do with Twitter and other social sites?

SAM DECKER: Mass Relevance is a platform that powers social experiences in owned media. Brands can put real-time social content into their website pages, apps, Facebook pages, or any other place where you typically don’t see real-time social content. We’re able to bring that in in a visual format. Unlike many social platforms that do listening, analytics and CRM, we’re really focused on the consumer experience and all the aspects necessary to bring social content to bear. If you want to do a photo wall or a stream or a Q&A, you need to filter the content, moderate it, display it, and we can do that with our platform.

We’re a software-as-a-service business with annual subscriptions. Sometimes we work on a campaign or project basis, but primarily we work on a software-as-a-service subscription.

Also, everything we do is mobile adaptive. Let’s say you’re doing a Q&A or a map or a stream or a photo wall. Each one of those modules is an HTML5-responsive UI that will adapt to the browser, which could be on an iPhone, Android or tablet.

How much of your work is with social advertising?

Actually, a big part of what we do is converged media. If you think about paid, owned and earned, CMOs are trying to make that strategy work. We live in the owned space, and we make the owned space more social. When the advertisers are buying ads, especially social ads, they usually point…somewhere [that] can be socially enhanced with our technology. Then advertisers can create more earned media from that landing page or experience. One example is from Hollister, where it bought a promoted hashtag for a “Flock-to-Unlock” campaign that resulted in a huge increase in buzz and sales for them.

Tell me more about that. How can a client use your services?

Hollister’s Flock-to-Unlock campaign…was a combination of elements including a photo wall, a progress meter and actual tweets with the hashtag #InHollister that unlocked a special discount. They pulled all that together into their own website and then advertised it. Hollister was able to drive a lot of people to this experience, a lot of people then tweeted it out, and that buzz created more amplification, which also then drove more people back to the site. It had a nice viral piece.

[Editor’s Note: Hollister reported 40,000 #InHollister tweets, which led to a 600% increase in mentions on Twitter.  Additionally, Hollister website sales increased by 45% compared to an average day, with 44% of total sales volume driven by the promotional product.]

Who else is in your competitive set and how do you differentiate yourself?

This actually is interesting because they’re becoming a cooperator, but our biggest competitors are agencies. Creative and digital agencies have often created these owned experiences, and sometimes they try to use some of the APIs to pull in the social experience. The challenges are that they don’t get [it] all and cannot get it real-time; they also need the ability to filter or moderate; and then they have to build the experience from scratch. We handle all those things and make it much faster and affordable for them to do this on repeated basis. That way, the agencies can do their part relatively easier and then focus on strategy and other parts of the experience.

How is the company doing in terms of funding, or how are you funded with investments, or can you talk a little bit about that?

We’ve had two rounds of funding  the seed and the series A  and the people who are involved are Mike Maples, Jr. of Floodgate, Austin Ventures and Metamorphic. They all joined in the second round along with Battery Ventures. We’ve raised a total of $5.5 million to date, and we will probably raise money by the end of this year.

Mass Relevance has been growing in terms of clients and revenue. What has led to that growth and led to this interest from clients?

Something like 83% of CMOs say that social is not integrated into their other functions. They say that social is a team in the corner…focused on publishing on Twitter and Facebook. Now, the advertising team, the events team, the website team and all of these teams are trying to figure out how to integrate social. Also, as we talk about social engagement or just engagement in general, CMOs and agencies are looking to create engaging experiences, and the growth of content marketing contributes to this combination of paid, owned and earned.

We take all of these trends that marketers are struggling with and we make it easy, safe, scalable for them to create social experiences that accomplish these objectives. We see ourselves as a solution to those challenges.

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