One of the newest entrants in the social media monitoring space, Viralheat uses techniques in large-scale network monitoring and proprietary P2P cloud computing to enable brands, agencies, marketers and content producers to measure the impact of their social media marketing campaigns.
Viralheat was founded in January 2009 by Vishal Sankhla and Rajeev Kadam. Kadam, the CEO, has several years of experience in peer-to-peer networks, advanced media delivery systems, information extraction from unstructured sources and data visualization. Prior to Viralheat, he was the founding engineer at Network Chemistry (later acquired by Aruba Networks), a company which provided Fortune 500 companies with real-time wireless network monitoring. As he had a deep interest in social media, Karam wanted to apply the techniques of building large-scale monitoring systems to help brands and agencies track social media in real-time. Sankhla has expertise in large-scale network monitoring and security and holds a patent on the method for operating radio communication systems using software-defined radio stations. At present, the company is entirely funded by its founders, but it is looking to raise an angel round to accelerate its growth and product development.
With the increasing popularity of video-sharing sites, social networks, blogs, forums, Twitter and avenues through which people share and create information, the founders felt that there was a need for an easy, cost-effective way to monitor social media in one place. Marketers currently have to use multiple offerings to track their presence on social media. Some solutions, such as Radian6, are very expensive. Viralheat was created to provide a unified solution as a simple tool with which to comprehend the social media landscape, making it easy for brands to track this new medium.
Viralheat is an enterprise-class social media business intelligence solution available in a SaaS model. The company aims to offer a one-stop shop for social media monitoring at an affordable price for any size company or agency. The business model offers tracking of 10 terms for $9.99 per month and 50 terms for $39.99 per month. A premium package is available to agencies at $139.98 per month, should users need additional data or advanced analytics, demographics or SEO tools. This business model allows users to pick and choose the capabilities they need instead of paying for those they do not.
Viralheat monitors viral video, Twitter, blogs and Web sites in real time. The company has invested in R&D in order to get customers up and running in less than five minutes. According to the company, Viralheat can aggregate, filter, store, compute, and analyze millions of social media interactions in seconds. In order to offer such a real-time solution, Viralheat has also made significant advances in large-scale data processing by using a massive proprietary cloud computer that can analyze, aggregate and store data intelligently. The system will also provide open APIs for third-party developers to use Viralheat’s data to build applications.
Viralheat’s competitors include WebTrends, Visible Measures, Radian6, and Omniture. Radian6 depends on third- party data providers and charges $500 per month per term; the cost increases based on the number of mentions. Omniture recently added the capability to track viral video and Twitter to its flagship product, SiteCatalyst, which is an expensive alternative. There is no standalone service that allows users to quickly sign up and start monitoring. WebTrends is another player in the space, but they do not have their own technology and use Radian6 as their social media monitoring solution. Users pay $4,000 per campaign with Visible Measures and $100 for five terms at ScoutLabs.
Viralheat targets major brands, advertising agencies, PR and digital agencies, social media marketers and consultants. The total available market is made up of over 12,000 ad agencies, 19,000 PR firms, more than 27,000 market research companies, 2,300 media representative firms and 994 media buying agencies.
Viralheat was launched in closed beta in May 2009 with over 100 customers in beta. The service was opened to the public in July 2009. Early traction came from providing analytics and mentions on Twitter, real-time Web and viral video sites. As it is very new, Viralheat is in the user adoption stage. The company currently has 300 customers, including Coca-Cola, TiVo, British Telecom, Weber Shandwick, LaunchSquad, and Sutherland Gold. The company aims to dominate the space in which it competes. As it is too early to consider an exit, Viralheat’s management feels that other areas of Web analytics could be augmented if Viralheat were to be acquired by players in this area.
This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2009