A guide to the DEMO Traction 2015 winners in Boston

On September 16 at the Westin Waterfront in Boston, the leaders from 30 enterprise startups all stood on stage in front of thousands of onlookers to tell their stories. James A. Martin gives us the highlights from the event.

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Only about 15 percent of video ads are pre-tested before being released, said Ken Denman, president and CEO of Emotient. In most cases, advertisers have relied on focus groups to gauge reactions to their messaging, promotions, or advertisements. But such methods “take too long, cost too much, and aren’t accurate,” Denman said.

That’s where San Diego-based Emotient, a developer of “facial expression analysis” software, comes in. Emotient’s SaaS platform captures video of respondents as they watch an ad, a political debate, or other event; sends the video to the cloud for processing; and compares the video-captured reactions “on a timestamp basis” to the ad, debate or other event to which participants are reacting.

Using “deep learning, computer vision, and cognitive neuroscience,” Emotient then helps its customers gain a deeper understanding of the emotions, such as ‘joy,’ contained within facial expressions, Denman explained.

Emotient is also “the only company in the world” that can simultaneously measure hundreds of faces, such as people at a sporting event, while also measuring their emotions, demographics, and “where they are looking,” Denman said. This will be a game changer for events and venues, where engagement with ads is currently measured based on “butts in seats.”

“You’re going to see over time variable rate pricing based on levels of engagement and attention that a venue operator will guarantee and deliver on or provide a discount” if the promised levels of engagement don’t materialize, Denman predicted.

For a use-case example, Denman said that Emotient video-recorded reactions of 60 Republicans during one of the recent Republican TV debates. Using its emotion analysis, Emotient accurately “called the winner immediately after the debate was over” while it took polls three days to declare a victor, he said.

Emotient was founded in 2012 and currently has received $6 million in funding, according to CrunchBase.

Editor’s note: Traction Watch is a new column focused obsessively on growth, and is a companion to the DEMO Traction conference series, which brings together high-growth startups with high-potential customers. The next DEMO Traction will take place in Boston on September 16, 2015. Growth companies can apply to present, or those similarly obsessed can register here to attend.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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