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NAB Labs Invests in Antenna, a User Engagement Startup

Firm's CEO says “Media companies want to know what their audiences care about and why”

“We see a lot of promise in this early stage company.”So says Sam Matheny, chief technology officer at NAB, speaking about tech firm Antenna.

For that reason, NAB Labs is participating in financing of the startup, which launched an online “engagement platform” used by some 55 publishers. Its purpose is to enable users to interact with mobile and Web content.

Those using the Antenna platform include Perez Hilton, Dlisted and Okay Player. Antenna’s CEO and co-founder is Porter Bayne, who said his company helps media companies manage their engagement with consumers, helping to monitor and interpret their reactions.

According to an NAB announcement, “Antenna provides a means for media companies and retailers to determine what online content is resonating with audiences by enabling users to quickly and easily react to various forms of mobile and web content, including video, images and text.”

Matheny said the platform “enables mobile and Web visitors to pick the exact text, image or video they want to react to and to offer real feedback — much more than just a ‘like’ or a ‘heart’ — without all of the management overhead that comes with cumbersome commenting systems.” (Shown is part of a screenshot from the Antenna website, demonstrating to publishers the ability to customize reactions, colors and placement on page.)

Part of the mission of NAB Labs is to invest in “development and commercialization of new technologies that have the potential to advance broadcasting in the digital age.” Matheny told Radio World that Antenna’s overall seed round was $650,000. “We were one of several investors and took a minority position,” though he didn’t specify a dollar value.

In the past, he said, NAB Labs made an equity investment in Syncbak in 2007 and participated in some follow-on rounds since then. It also invested in NextRadio in 2013 during FM chip API development for cellphones. This gave NAB Labs an ownership position in the core FM chip API, though it does not own stock in NextRadio itself, he said.

The equity round of financing was led by IDEA Fund Partners. Other investors include Geoff Judge, iNovia Capital partner and co-founder of 24/7 Real Media; Horan MediaTech Advisors; IDEA Fund Partners, a North Carolina-based seed stage fund; and The Startup Factory.