Boston startup TVision Insights adds more data to TV advertising

TVision Insights uses facial recognition software to collect data.
TVision Insights uses facial recognition software to collect data.

Boston-based TVision Insights, which provides data for television programming and advertisements, said Wednesday it has raised $2.5 million from private investors.

TVision, founded in 2014, installs a small box under a homeowner’s television to analyze when a consumer is in the room, smiles or loses interest while watching an ad, or looks down at a cellphone. About 500 Boston-area homes have a TVision box and receive some form of compensation from the company, said Dan Schiffman, TVision’s chief revenue officer.

TVision, a $50,000 winner of the 2015 startup accelerator program MassChallenge, cannot disclose the specific names of its customers, but Schiffman said TVision works with major broadcast television networks, one of the most popular cable networks, and two large media agencies.

Television was the most lucrative ad format in the US in 2015, accounting for $78.8 billion of US ad revenue, according to Strategy Analytics. Digital ad revenue will take in $52.8 billion in 2015, the analytics company said. But digital advertising is growing at a much faster pace than TV as more consumers watch content on phones and computers. Online advertisers also have access to more data, including consumer clicks, page views, and time spent watching videos.

Nielsen ratings are still used for TV. But Schiffman said TVision software, which is a combination of Xbox Kinect and its own technology, reports more specific numbers to its clients so they can better target advertising and create content that keeps viewers more attentive.

The data analytics company, founded by two Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni, Yan Liu and Schiffman, and Northeastern University professor Raymond Fu, now has 14 US employees between Boston and New York.

The recent round of investment was led by Project 11 Ventures, Golden Venture Partners, Sigma Prime Ventures, and angel investors in the Boston Syndicates group. TVision previously raised $400,000 from friends, family, and angel investors.

“The programmatic delivery of advertising on television is growing fast, but we need more accurate, real-time data to effectively drive advancements in targeting,” Joshua Summers, an angel investor in TVision and chief executive of Somerville’s Clypd, an advertising platform for the television industry, said in a statement. “TVision is introducing advanced technology to the TV industry.”