Signal Media raises £5.8M to help companies monitor and sift through the news

There are a plethora of companies in the “media monitoring” space, such as Cision, Factiva and Meltwater, but London-based Signal Media reckons that it can give them all a run for their money.
By employing AI, the company claims to be able to offer more certainty that a news source can be trusted and that a story is relevant, thus helping to reduce the impact of rumor and false stories on business decision-making. Or so the pitch goes.

To fund a U.S. sales push in 2017 and further develop its product, Signal Media has raised £5.8 million in new funding. Investors in the round include MMC Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Frontline Ventures, Reed Elsevier Ventures and Local Globe. The additional cash will also be used to add to the startup’s current 50-person headcount.

“The internet is the largest data-set ever created. But rather than improve the quality of information out there, it’s actually just made it almost impossible to get a relevant and complete picture of what’s happening,” says Signal Media co-founder and CEO David Benigson.

“Quantity has drowned out quality. And in a 24-second news-cycle, business leaders need constant access to hyper-relevant information so that they’re making decisions based on fact, not falsehood. They need the complete picture to be certain that they’re making decisions that reflect reality and not their assumptions.”

That’s, of course, where Signal Media’s product kick in. Its AI claims to let businesses track changes to their world in real time — from competitors, to regulation, to their own reputation — with certainty and clarity. “We give businesses the information they need to know and the information they didn’t know they needed, to make smarter, faster business decisions,” adds Benigson.

As it stands, the information that Signal Media tracks is limited to news in print, broadcast and online media, but the startup says it’s already developing tools to look at real-time changes to tax and financial regulation.

Signal Media's two founders and three desk lamps

Signal Media’s two founders and three desk lamps

Specifically, the software sources information from 2.7 million websites, 67,000 print feeds and 300 broadcast channels. It can also auto-translate titles from more than 90 countries in more than 40 languages.

Signal largely works within the financial services, legal and professional services sectors. Its initial focus has been on transforming how PR and communications teams analyze media coverage concerning themselves and the wider business landscape.

“Signal goes beyond monitoring, letting our users search for bespoke topics and themes within the world’s media. Our AI lets us train the system to recognize (for instance) when someone changes job, when an M&A transaction takes place or when a reputational threat is emerging,” explains Benigson.

Noteworthy is Signal Media’s other co-founder, Dr. Miguel Martinez. I’m told he joined the company as part of a KTP [Knowledge Transfer Partnership] to develop his research at the University of Essex, and is now the startup’s full-time Head of Research.

“We know that AI and machine learning are still in the nascent stages of their life-cycles — having a dedicated research arm of Signal is what sets us apart, and what keeps us cutting edge,” says the Signal Media CEO.