He’s had many roles — chased psychopaths and been a priest, played the Incredible Hulk. But few may know of the accomplished actor and director Ed Norton’s star turn as an entrepreneur.
EDO, a data, measurement and analytics firm Norton founded in 2015 with Harvard PhD Daniel Nadler, just closed $12 million in Series A financing, led by Breyer Capital. EDO helps marketers, particularly movie studios, design and tweak ad campaigns on linear broadcast and cable network television, which, despite sharp gains by digital rivals, still command half of all national advertising dollars.
Norton was an investor in Nadler’s award-winning Kensho Technologies, founded in 2013, which builds innovative machine learnings systems for big financial institutions and the U.S. intelligence community. It was sold to S&P in March for $550 million.
Norton told Forbes he saw an opportunity to expand Kensho’s advanced data science from Wall Street to another area that needed it badly in a world that he was close to—movie marketing.
“My observation was that the baseline of data science and machine learning in the media and advertising industry at large was even lower” than in finance, he said. The film industry was flying blind on their biggest line item—television advertising. A studio chief friend noted to him at the time that one of the few ways modern film studios could boost margins was to get more bang for the buck from television “by not throwing so much money against the wall.”
It’s been a longtime lament. Big TV ad campaigns boost sales, but on a macro level. It’s rarely clear how or why, or through which combinations of shows and ads. Digital advertising, in contrast, can record every view, click and purchase.
So EDO collects and overlays three broad sets of data: TV schedules and audience metadata licensed from Kantar Media and Nielsen/Gracenote; all commercials running on national television; and anonymous consumer behavioral data from search engines, social media and content sites used for research or shopping.
The trillions of data points it gathers show what viewers do online— “second-screen behavior”—while watching TV. Kevin Krim, EDO’s CEO and former head of CNBC Digital, called the service an “EKG of consumer intent.”
Reggie Panaligan, SVP, Research & Analytics, Paramount Pictures, said the studio has worked with EDO for the past 18 months on some 15 TV campaigns. “We have ten to 15 [different] television spots on air for a given campaign and television advertising is not cheap,” he said. EDO’s helped Paramount make “decisions on specific ad units that we needed to adjust or buy, or last minute creative changes based on what we see is working in terms of driving search and search engagement.”
“This is happening in real time, which is usually something that is involved in a digital marketing campaign.”
He declined to comment on specific campaigns but said that a spot on The Voice or the World Series, for instance, or programming genres, like live reality competition shows, can be dissected within the hour to see who responded and how and the “response relative to our competitors.”
EDO’s other clients include Warner Bros., Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, Turner and ESPN. It recently added automotive brands. It will use the new funding to scale up its analytical coverage, technical talent and product development to expand national sales to other categories.
EDO currently has a staff of just over 30.
Its “special capabilities as a company,” Norton said, “flow from our ability to leverage veteran media and advertising expertise alongside technology and data science talent that, quite frankly, traditional advertising and measurement companies could never hire.”