Ad Startup Bets Trends Make Better Targets Than Demographics

Young online ad firm Taykey argues that what people discuss online is a better indicator of how to target them than signals such as demographic or behavioral data. The company has just come out of a beta period begun in December, and expects to grow its staff by 20 people by year’s end, with help from a recent funding round.

The firm, founded in Israel with a business office in New York, trawls the web for data to isolate which topics and keywords are trending in current conversations – from Christ to beer to Britney Spears. From there,Taykey buys media on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg and search engines to run campaigns informed by that trending data.

“It’s about what’s trending for whom,” said Amit Avner, co-founder and CEO of Taykey.

For example, if an advertiser wants to reach men in New York, and Taykey determines that people in New York are talking about Lady Gaga, rather than simply target men in New York, it will find males that like the pop star on Facebook and target them there.

It also might bid on search keywords relevant to a recent occurrence – a reality show celebrity faux pas for instance – that people will be searching on. “We can also buy the trending topic on Twitter and buy the audience on Facebook,” said Avner.

When advertisers simply target based on demographic data, Avner suggested, “You can exhaust the audience in a few days.” The approach allows advertisers to react in real-time, targeting against what consumers “really care about” rather than “what they should care about,” he continued.

The company has worked with Pepsi on campaigns for its Lipton Brisk brand and to help drive awareness and participation for the Pepsi Refresh Project. Avner wouldn’t name any other clients, though he said the company also is working with consumer packaged goods and fashion brands.

In recent analysis, Taykey found that men who have posted about summer frequently mentioned terms including “iTunes” and “beer.” Women talking summer online, on the other hand, posted about “clothes” and “beauty.”

Fifteen of firm’s staff handle research and development out of Israel, while four business staff are in New York. “We plan to grow by ten people each by the end of the year,” Avner said.

Taykey closed $9 million in series B funding from Sequoia Capital, Softbank Capital and Crescent Point, and expects to use the money for engineering and sales hires in those offices.

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