Funding will be used to end time-sucking fundraising, actually grow the business
CivicScience Inc., another digital polling company, today announced that it landed a bunch of coin. Though the company refused to disclose the size of the investment, aptly-named CEO John Dick remarked, “Let’s just say it’s somewhere between $1,199,999 and $1,200,001.”
The funding round included strategic investors like marketing research leader, The NPD Group, national polling firm, ALR, and Kevin McClatchy of newspaper-company fame. Though the round did not include any West Coast VC funds, CivicScience was pleased to announce that not a single check bounced.
The CivicScience IntelligentQuestion Engine, or iQ, was developed by a bunch of software engineers from Carnegie Mellon who apparently couldn’t get into Stanford. Through a simple API, iQ plugs into those dime-a-dozen polls found on thousands of websites, social networks, and mobile platforms. Since most publishers think that writing poll questions every day is super-annoying, iQ dynamically delivers contextually-relevant and editorially-designed questions to users from a massive, structured question library. The technology has proven to increase same-site poll responses by up to 900%, while enabling editors to spend more time snooping around on Quora.
“We really thought they were joking,” said the president of a major newspaper and one of iQs earliest adopters. “We were all like, ‘Why would we ever need to know more than the five demographics we get from our current web analytics tools?’ And they were all like, ‘Whatever.’”
Using machine learning and predictive modeling algorithms to analyze the results, iQ can then segment site audiences on up to 150 demographic and profile categories, as well as hundreds of brand and issue preferences. Reporting tools are made available to publishers who can then easily share insights with their advertisers and editorial team.
“Social disruptive network-effects Lady Gaga,” remarked Mr. Dick (seriously, that’s his name). “Game-changing location-based Charlie Sheen.”
CivicScience offers the iQ API free of charge. Like every other digital company on the planet, the company believes they can make money by selling the data they collect. Too lazy to do it themselves, they set up a network of channel distribution partners to productize and sell the aggregate data into retail, financial services, public affairs, and the apparently-massive Groupon-endorsed yoga studio vertical. Qualified publishers who use iQ can even earn a revenue share from CivicScience after a few months of data collection, perhaps even more than the $3-per-month remnant ads now sitting on their sites.
CivicScience indexed only 70 Million polls in 2010 and is on pace to collect just over 600 Million responses in 2011, far from the 10 Gazillion polls cited in the company’s three-year projections. The aggregated data, combined with various data analysis buzzwords, can be used to measure consumer sentiment in real-time, across thousands of brands, celebrities, issues, and topics.
“At first we had no interest in this investment because we fully expect the land-line telephone to make a huge comeback any day now,” said John Anzalone, a principal at ALR and the pollster best known for his work on behalf of President Barack Obama. “But when we saw how good their engineers were at beer pong, we just knew that the board meetings would be awesome.”