Signal Media, a reputation management platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to scour myriad news and data sources to derive insights, has closed a $16 million round of funding led by GMG Ventures, which was recently launched by the parent company of the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper. Other investors include MMC Ventures, Frontline, Hearts Ventures, Reed Elsevier Ventures, and LocalGlobe.
Founded out of London in 2013, Signal Media applies machine learning to nearly 3 million information sources — including social media, print media, television, and radio — and serves up alerts to those who want to follow news, online conversations, and other tidbits relevant to them. The company is positioning itself as a competitor to industry heavyweights such as Cision, WPP’s Kantar, and Isentia.
Though the platform could serve a number of use cases, its purpose for now is as a “reputation management and decision support” tool, according to a statement issued by the company, and its current focus lies squarely in the PR and communications industries.
Signal Media’s raison d’etre is tackling information overload, allowing decision makers to keep tabs on all the things they need to know, with any insights made available in more than 100 languages globally.
Monitoring websites and social networks is one thing, but how exactly does Signal Media track print publications and broadcasters? Well, that’s where good old-fashioned optical character recognition (OCR) and machine learning come into play.
“We acquire the print from providers globally, and we extract the text through OCR scanning, analyse it with machine learning, and then provide the PDF print image and extracted text together back in our product,” Signal Media cofounder and CEO David Benigson told VentureBeat. “The same with TV and Radio — we get the audio/video transcribed into text and then run through the same process.”
The end user can set up alerts for a specific time each day, or they can elect to have alerts sent in real time as they happen.
Prior to now, Signal Media had raised around $10.6 million, and with another $16 million in the bank the company plans to expand further into the U.S. It’s also now targeting risk management for tax and compliance, among other verticals.
“We have a system that’s constantly evolving and getting smarter and more intuitive for our customers as they use it,” said Signal Media founder and CEO David Benigson. “Most businesses above a certain size already have a business intelligence tool that enables them to analyze their internal data in considerable depth. Our objective is to provide senior leaders with as much clarity and transparency about what’s happening outside of their organization as they have inside it.”
AI is among the biggest technology trends of the moment and is now permeating everything from recruitment and cybersecurity to creativity and ecommerce. And reputation management — online or otherwise — is another natural application for the technology.
Signal Media claims some notable clients in the U.K., including British Airways, Allen & Overy, TalkTalk, and E.On, and the company told VentureBeat that it has seen 300 percent growth year-on-year. Nabbing the VC arm of a major news brand is another notable coup for the fledgling startup.
“Signal’s sophisticated AI engine is changing how people consume news and information and is redefining how businesses and organisations leverage insight as part of their long-term strategy,” added GMG Ventures founder and managing partner Alan Hudson.