By monitoring what people say and do about brands on social media the new company will allow advertisers a new way to target consumers.

Imagine if you could type the name of your brand into a search platform and find out which consumers have the most potent “affinity” for your brand. Research startup, Affinity Answers is planning to create just such a platform.

For over a decade the company, which used to be called Colligent, has been developing ways to process the social media behavior of more than 400 million people to find out how they talk about brands. The company doesn’t measure simple “likes” but looks for real engagement, such as hashtags, retweets or reshares, comments, and other substantial actions that show a user engaged with a piece of brand content.

Now the company is trying to create a simple and easy to use platform for advertisers and brands to access the information and use it to target consumers who show a strong “affinity” for a specific brand. The metric they use is seen as so powerful because it allows brands to connect with those who are already interested in them, increasing the chances that they will enjoy the outreach and share the content.

“If I’m Coke, I can log in and type Coke Zero, and I’ll get a quick hit list of what other brands my consumers are engaging with,” founder and CEO Sree Nagarajan, explained to MediaPost. “This process often reveals surprising affinities, like who knew my customers also like Cheetos.”

Essentially, the platform allows brands to find an “act-alike” audience. Nagarajan describes an “act-alike” audience as one that doesn’t just look like a brand’s target demographic but acts like the brand on social media. This means they share the same content, they use the hashtags, and they participate, if not drive, the online conversation about the brand.

The company has received backing from former Publicis media chief Jack Klues, a man who knows about marketing and connecting with consumers. He invested in the company and joined their board because he felt the service answered a long-standing problem in the industry – how to measure consumer affinity to their brand and about competing or similar brands.

In an interview, he explained, “It gives a brand the ability to use their affinity — or the affinity of similar or competing brands — as a bridge and put a real number against it. It should enable us to provide a client with a measuring stick on the [media] property we’re buying for them, without necessarily having to show that they’re converting at the bottom end of the funnel.”

Thus far, Affinity Answers has gathered “Affinity Scores” on more than 50,000 brands and is constantly expanding its database. The company public social media APIs to get data about consumers and how they are interacting with brands. It then uses its proprietary algorithm to calculate and individuals “affinity” to a particular brand.

The new tool and search platform could make it easier for brands to cut through the clutter of today’s information-saturated consumer. By connecting brands with the consumer who are already responding to their content, brands and advertisers can make sure they are sending their message to the people who will spread it. It also helps advertisers understand what is and isn’t working and that is always important.