MIAMI — What do Santa Claus and a stick of gum teach marketers about the future of advertising? Turns out, plenty, according to one ad-tech firm helping advertisers leverage social data to target TV and other commercials.

4C Insights’ Anupam Gupta calls it “affinity targeting”, and he says the new technique could be powerful.

“So, if you think about what’s happening on social from each of us as a consumer, right, everything we do on social media, whether it’s a tweet, a post, a comment, a like… that is an active action, right?,” Gupta tells Beet.TV in this video interview.

“So if you tap into that, right, there’s extremely rich data in an observed setting, right? Completely real data, real people, right, that you can kind of mine to get some real insights.”

Rated highly as an employer on Glassdoor, 4C Insights offers advertisers activations and analytics including ads delivered in social media that are linked to real-time TV play-out.

In September, the outfit took on a $26m Series C investment designed to fuel expansion across the world and in its product line-up – specifically, in the kind of affinity targeting delivery Gupta is talking about.

So what’s an example? Gupta explains: “Last year, we found that people who are following Santa Claus around a holiday timeframe, right, also had a very strong what we call ‘affinity’, right, you know, with a nicotine gum.

“Sometimes it comes up with extremely, you know, non-obvious, you know, kind of scenarios. You say, ‘Hey, listen, you know, people spending time with their kids and families are making a decision or trying to quit smoking at the time’.

“A marketer could take action very quickly on social media to run campaigns with the right creative etcetera to exactly those people who express this kind of behavior. The key here is combining signals, right, you know, from, let’s say. social media or other affinity sources.”

This interview was conducted at Beet Retreat 2016: The Transformation of Television Advertising, an executive retreat presented by Videology with AT&T AdWorks and the 605. Please find more videos from the event here.

This interview was conducted by Matt Prohaska, CEO of Prohaska Consulting.