Ad Agencies and CBS Invest $40M in Spot Runner

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However you want to describe what they do — local TV buying platform, small business ad agency, geotargeted video advertising – Spot Runner is on a roll. The company just closed a $40 million round that includes mega-ad/marketing agencies Interpublic (IPG) and WPP, as well as CBS. Also involved were Allen & Company, Tudor Investments, Capital Research and Management, individual investors Lachlan Murdoch and Vivi Nevo, and original Spot Runner investors Index Ventures and Battery Ventures.

SpotRunner, has been developing geotargeting for franchises and national businesses (for local broadcast and cable), as well as selling locally targeted TV campaigns directly to small businesses. Most recently the company announced a partnership with agency JWT (part of new investor WPP).

According to co-founder David Waxman, this investment reflects how complementary Spot Runner’s capabilities are to national branding campaigns run by these major agencies. “This is about helping brands with their local programs.”

According to the press release:

  • WPP plans to use Spot Runner’s web-based platform to help clients target ads across all media channels more effectively at the local level, while maintaining a consistent brand message.
  • IPG views this relationship as an opportunity to add another dimension to its market-leading local, direct response and hyper-targeted communications solutions.
  • For CBS Corporation, which has offerings in the television, radio, Internet, outdoor and publishing segments, Spot Runner’s innovative technology offers a more efficient and consolidated system to sell its diverse ad inventory and an additional channel to bring new local advertisers to its media properties.

Sounds a little like what Google has said it wants to do, no?

David Waxman told me on a previous call that the company was going to expand into other media and become more of a full-service agency to serve a broader range of client needs. That would immediately include online video and possibly radio. IPTV is not far behind.

Spot Runner did two innovative things when it appeared a little less than a year ago. It built a cable TV ad buying platform that didn’t exist before and it developed an extensive library of pre-produced TV spots that could be customized. It also hasn’t really had much competition.

When I first heard about Spot Runner pre-launch I thought, “This is exactly what Google wants to do with TV.” Just after launch I was on a call with Google on an unrelated matter and I said, “you’re aware of Spot Runner, right?”

The response was “yes.”

Undoubtedly there have been many conversations behind the scenes, about which I’m purely speculating, between Spot Runner and large portal X, Y or Z. But the ship may have sailed. Spot Runner is now no longer an interesting little company with a novel, unproven platform. It’s a serious company with some now very powerful relationships and investors.

We’ll see what happens.


10 Responses to “Ad Agencies and CBS Invest $40M in Spot Runner”

  1. Google Print (Newspaper) Ads: Take Two « Screenwerk Says:

    […] All roads point to future common buying platforms for traditional and online media. For example, Spot Runner is an example of the Internet being used as a buying platform for traditional TV. And eBay was chosen to build something similar on a larger scale. (per the WSJ). […]

  2. The 40M Dollar Investment to Change Television Advertising at The Blog Herald Says:

    […] Hat Tip: Screenwerk To read the full Press Release on the investment. […]

  3. NY Times Managing Editor on Younger Readers « Screenwerk Says:

    […] Rohan also predicts Google will buy Spot Runner “in the next six months.” In my conversations with the Spot Runner founders, there’s no indication of that. Undoubtedly, they’ve already been approached multiple times. Google has known about Spot Runner since the beginning and would now have to pay a YouTube-like premium for the site. I agree with Rohan, however, that the fit is right and it’s consistent with Google’s overall strategy — but this was obvious from day 1. […]

  4. Chris Peet Says:

    Spot Runner has issues…the whole idea of buying spots wholesale the way they do for the end user is ridiculous. I just put in for a mock schedule for Pinellas county only in the Tampa area. It came out with running on two networks, Lifetime Movie and SciFi. Airing spots only on weekends, with broad rotators. This is exactly how cable sells thier spots too, and this has absolutely nothing to do with making the advertiser successful. I ran a schedule and the reach and frequency of this schedule was abysmal. Also the Cost Per Thousand was way high. Paying $48 per spot in Pinellas County I would have to guess is high as well. Anyway, beware that this thing is so cool. Advertisers are better off going directly to the cable company and negotiate rates and a schedule. Also, you can get quality spots produced locally for $500, and sometimes for free depending on the amount of the schedule placed. And the spots are 100% about the client, and does not just include voice overs and graphics. Any testimonials, slice of life, or personalized spots are not available to the SpotRunner user. Just thought you might want to keep this in mind when hiping such a service. Certianly these guys have had huge succes with the internet, but Spot Runner is not anything like PeoplePC or Firefly.

  5. Simon Edhouse Says:

    Spotrunner seems to be based around automating a process for the benefit of Advertisers or their (TV) Publishers… and I think the Big Agency Groups like WPP saw this as potentially disruptive, because it was so much ‘faster’ and therefore seemed to imply the threat of disintermediation of their time-tested but slower processes. (and of course it may enhance their systems in the way that they predict) However… its still all about Agencies, Advertisers & Outlets… and not (as far as I can tell) really about the ‘users’, except to the extent that the system implements behavioral targeting/matching and then cross-sells that. ~ This however, is more or less like a new melon in the fruit shop… tasty, but still melon.

  6. Greg Sterling Says:

    Yes. The sales channel is always the issue. Agencies are a reliable and well-established channel and it’s unlikely that most marketers would go direct around them.

  7. Simon Edhouse Says:

    Greg, but I humbly suggest that, as the great Alfred Korzybski said: “The Map is not the Territory”… There is a way way better solution to all of this, and speaking as an ex-Ogilvy Managing Director, and now software developer/entrepreneur, and student of disruptive-innovation theory, I am able to vector this imbroglio better than most..

  8. Greg Sterling Says:


    A “better solution to all of this . . . ” Please explain.

  9. Simon Edhouse Says:

    not in the public domain…

  10. Austin local online marketing Says:

    Austin local online marketing…

    […]Ad Agencies and CBS Invest $40M in Spot Runner « Screenwerk[…]…

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