Meet Umami, the newest social TV startup

umami

The latest company to enter the social TV fray isn’t being very vocal about how it’s planning to revolutionize the market. But that hasn’t stopped New York City-based Umami from being able to raise funds. The startup announced a modest $1.65 million funding round Tuesday that it will use to grow its team and build a new platform to connect networks with their fans.

So what is Umami? The Japanese word refers to a certain type of savoriness associated with kombu seaweed and dried bonito flakes. As for the startup, well, it’s building a platform to enable networks to better engage with their viewers.

Not just another social TV app

Umami hopes to differentiate itself in an already crowded social TV space, which includes a number of TV check-in apps, as well as some others that have been built to tap into the engagement of conversations happening on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Unlike previous social TV apps, which were built primarily with the consumer in mind, Umami is also focused on finding ways to provide value to the networks and content producers that actually create the shows viewers are talking about online.

According to CEO Scott Rosenberg, Umami will not just create an easy way for networks to re-use existing assets such as behind the scenes videos, photos and other creative assets to build mobile experiences. It will also provide the kind of engagement and viewer data that will allow those networks to sell interactive advertising enabled by its platform.

Showing networks the money

Rosenberg knows how important data is to make a sale, as he just spent the last few years as VP of Advanced Advertising at Rovi, where he sold interactive TV advertising to TV networks and consumer brands. He hopes to leverage that experience, along with the Umami platform, to provide networks and advertisers the types of metrics they need to justify social TV campaigns.

“If they can’t make more money from this, they won’t be a part of the party.” Rosenberg told us in a phone interview. If you can prove, for instance, that your social application leads viewers to spend more time on the network or to have more brand recall on a sponsor’s message, you can actually use that data to get advertisers on board. “If we do our job well, networks will sell more ads and sponsorships,” he said.

For now, Umami is keeping the platform that enables this — and its corresponding consumer-facing applications — under wraps. But the startup expects to provide more information over the next few weeks. We’ll keep you posted once we’ve gotten a chance to see what’s under the hood.

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