Semantic Startup Temnos Promises Publishers A Deeper Understanding Of Their Content, Raises $1.25M

Temnos is launching a new platform today that it says will give online publishers important data, which in turn will allow them to make their content more engaging. It’s also announcing that it has raised $1.25 million in funding.

Although Temnos is a new startup, the origins of its team and technology date back to CNET, where Temnos’ founder and executive chairman Tim Musgrove worked as a senior researcher. From there, Musgrove launched a startup called TextDigger, then some of the TextDigger team and tech was acquired by Federated Media, and then Temnos itself was founded this year.

Over that time, Musgrove told me, the team, which he has largely kept intact through all those transitions, has developed sophisticated semantic technology for analyzing text. When publishers provide Temnos with content, the company can return metadata around that content, including the grade level of the language, the brand safety, and the topics. It can also deliver suggested content such as summaries and alternate headlines.

With that information, publishers can get a clearer understanding of their content and do a better job categorizing it, packaging or repackaging it, and even running ads along it. For example, Musgrove said a political article could be given different headlines (some aimed at conservatives, some at liberals) when posted on different sites. Or if a publisher is targeting ads alongside a specific category, Temnos will find a much broader swath of applicable articles.

In fact, Temnos shared case studies from a couple of customers — neither of them traditional publishers. By using Temnos, Federated Media allows advertisers to search for a specific topic and find related topics, which they can then use for marketing campaigns in the FM network. As a result, click-through rates have increased by more than 50 percent and consumer brand affinity has gone up by as much 75 percent, Temnos says. Meanwhile, commenting company Disqus uses Temnos to test out different headlines when content has a lower click-through rate than average, and it says the engagement rate has improved by more than 75 percent of the time, thanks to Temnos.

Musgrove said that there are other content-analysis services, but they’re mostly focused on specific industries — for example, Peer39 is focused on advertising. Temnos, on the other hand, has a more “flexible and organic system,” and it can work with any taxonomy or even help customers build a new taxonomy.

I decided to try out it myself, asking for analysis of this post about the Greylock Partners session at TechCrunch Disrupt SF and this post about Marc Benioff’s recollections on Steve Jobs. When I got the results back, the headlines weren’t totally crazy, but they weren’t perfect, either. For example, for the Benioff post, Temnos suggested, “There Would Be No Without Steve Jobs,” which misses a little bit of the nuance. The company also says the post was written at a seventh-grade level, and I’m not sure how to feel about that. (I’ve included the full summaries of both posts at the end of this article.)

I asked Musgrove whether this kind of automated content generation is potentially spammy and whether he sees automation replacing the work of humans.

“We seldom really generate something completely artificially,” he replied. “You’re always leaning on human beings in the beginning.” To illustrate that point, he said the suggested headlines are usually phrases pulled from the articles that seem particularly “intense” and have been translated into “headlinese”: “It’s not as artificial as you would think.”

Temnos’ angel investors aren’t being disclosed. Oh, and it’s announcing that it has appointed a CEO, Jim Bailey, formerly CEO of custom chip company Exis.

And here are the summaries:

In addition to announcing a new $1 billion fund, while onstage today at Disrupt SF, Reid Hoffman and David Sze of Greylock Partners talked about how they choose the startups they back. Sze said the firm conducted a study of partners’ voting patterns and decided to change the process by which it decides on investments. The problem, Sze suggested, is that those ideas are probably “too easy.” The investments that resulted in the biggest returns? One of the other panel topics was Greylock’s interest in backing in enterprise startups.

Moderator Mike Arrington allowed Benioff to speak for some time without interruption as the Salesforce CEO recalled his early days when Jobs served as a mentor, guru and inspiration. “Many things we created in our company he was the inspiration for, and guided us to,” he added, lamenting that Apple, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to say “thank you” enough for what Steve Jobs had built. In front of a crowd of tech entrepreneurs who Some days often seem to be more “inspired” by the potential to make millions than help the world, while posturing in a way that they think reflects Steve Jobs’ style” Benioff said that they’re taking away the wrong message from what they think they know about the former Apple CEO. Steve Jobs was a “spiritual man,” said Benioff, and that’s an aspect to his personality that hasn’t been properly captured by the books and now the movies that are being made in the wake of his passing. He asked Jobs what he should do next, and Jobs said three key things.