Firm Started by Actor Ed Norton Raises $12M to Measure TV Ads

Actor Ed Norton doesn’t want to talk about Fight Club but, surprisingly, he’s real interested in measuring TV advertising.

A technology investor, Norton is a co-founder of EDO, a company that uses artificial intelligence to analyze viewer engagement in real-time that on Thursday announced closing a $12 million round of Series A Funding.

The funding was led by Jim Breyer of Breyer Capital. Also participating are Robert Smith and Brian Sheth, co-founders of Vista Equity which owns Integrated Ad Science and Mediaocean; and WGI Group, whose founders include Johan Goodhart, co-founder and CEO of Moat

EDO was founded in 2015 by Norton and Daniel Nadler. Norton had invested in Nadler’s machine learning company Kensho Technologies. After Kensho was sold to S&P Global for $700 million, Norton convinced Nadler there was an opportunity to use artificial intelligence and machine learning in the media and advertising business.

In addition to engineers and data scientist, Nadler hired media executives from Nielsen and NBCUniversal including Kevin Krim, the former head of CNBC Digital. Krim, who is CEO of EDO, had also previously overseen the investment Comcast had made in Kensho.

Krim said that EDO wants to measure national TV at the point between the exposure at the top of the marketing funnel now captured by Nielsen and the location-based and transactional data at the bottom of the funnel.

EDO thinks it captures “the critical moment when people go from conscious awareness to active consideration and shopping behaviors that are intent indicating” Krim said. “We want to be the measurement layer for engagement in TV ad sales.”

It’s technology offers an EKG-like readout of a campaign’s effectiveness in real time. “That allows people to optimize their TV campaigns in real time and they’ve never had that option before,” Krim said.

Prior to getting its funding, EDO has been operating quietly, but it has been doing some work with some major media companies including ESPN, Turner, NBCUniversal, Warner Bros., Lionsgate and Paramount,

EDO helped optimize a summer campaign for an automaker. The campaign had six commercials being used in equal rotation and in the first weeks of the campaign, EDO discovered which were generating the most engagement and which were generating the least and found that the top performers were generating 50% more consumer engagement that the ones that scored lowest.

By doubling the number of impressions given to the high-scoring ads and halving those for the lower scorers,  EDO was able to generate the additional engagement of an additional 240 primetime ads. At about $50,000 per spot, EDO’s optimization created $12 million in addition media value, Krim said.

“That’s the way we’re changing how people think about how they buy and managing their TV campaigns,” he said.

EDO’s system can similarly evaluate which shows and networks generate the most engagement for a campaign.

Krim said it can also be used to measure sponsorships, such as the commercial-free presentation of a show.

EDO records and monitors all network and broadcast feeds and has built a database of every airing of every national spot using its own automated content recognition technology, data from Nielsen and Kantar and, when a new spot appears, human review.

Trillions of Data Points

“That’s trillions of data points over the last three and a half years,” he said. “We’ve scored 47 million national TV airings.”

EDO uses machine learning and predictive algorithms to provide clients with real time information about the campaigns performance.

“I saw firsthand in my work in making, marketing and distributing movies that TV advertising was a huge part of marketing budgets, yet the only measurement of whether that was effective was a very simplistic measure of exposure that’s not even very reliable in today’s world,” Norton said through a company spokesman.

“More importantly, the key to great marketing today is the ability to optimize and adjust your campaign, responsively, in real-time. We felt like EDO could bring the kind of rigorous data-driven and actionable analytics that digital advertising has had for years to the huge budgets on TV.,” he said.

Norton, who is co-founder and co-chairman of EDO, said he had a long conversation in his kitchen with Krim before he was hired.

“Kevin clearly saw the problems of TV’s reliance on simple exposure-based measurement and knew from his digital advertising experience what it could be," Norton said. "And the rare thing was also that he had done early-stage startups and understood how to harness elite technical talent around this kind of problem.” 

Krim said that Norton was “very active in opening doors for us,” when the company was getting started.

Now he’s while he’s writing, directing and acting in the film Motherless Brooklyn, “he’s helping us close this fundraising. He’s just a very unique person,” Krim said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.