CBS, Interpublic Invest $40M in Spot Runner

  |  October 31, 2006   |  Comments

The local TV ad-creation platform plans to expand its services into VOD and online video.

Spot Runner, a start-up that offers a Web interface for creating and placing ads into local television programming, has banked another $40 million in funding from a slew of big-name investors, which will help it expand into other media.

The Los Angeles-based company on Monday announced the new round -- with CBS Corp., Interpublic Group and WPP as equity investors -- and said the money would be used to expand its push into online video, VOD (video on demand) and IPTV (Internet Protocol Television).

The investment comes at a crucial time for Spot Runner, a company that makes it easy for businesses to use the Internet to build and execute a media buy on local television. For as little as $500, Spot Runner can create and deliver a targeted TV ad campaign, using a library of customizable ad templates and connections with television stations in local and regional markets.

The addition of CBS, Interpublic and WPP as investors is also significant. The three companies are major players in the online/television ad market, controlling billions of dollars in advertising budgets for some of the biggest buyers. On the ad buying side, WPP says it manages about $50 billion of clients' budgets worldwide and Interpublic Group agencies serve more than 4,000 multinational, regional and local clients around the world.

WPP plans to use Spot Runner's platform to help clients target ads across all media channels more effectively at the local level. For Interpublic, the investment is an opportunity to add a new dimension to its local, direct response and hyper-targeted communications services.

On the ad selling side, Spot Runner said CBS' ad-supported programming reaches tens of millions of viewers every day. "[Spot Runner's] technology offers a more efficient and consolidated system to sell ad inventory and an additional channel to bring new local advertisers to [our] media properties," said Joe Ianniello, senior VP of finance at CBS Corp. "This new technology will not only increase advertising demand but will also continue to allow stations to control their inventory," he added.

The latest funding brings the total raised by Spot Runner to $60 million. The company previously collected $20 million in start-up funding from Index Ventures and Battery Ventures. The round also included investments from Allen & Company, Tudor Investment Corp., Capital Research and Management, media executive Lachlan Murdoch and financier Vivi Nevo, as well as follow-on investments from Index Ventures and Battery Ventures.

The Spot Runner signals increased interest from investors in the advertising market. Rhythm NewMedia, a player in the wireless ad sector, also closed a second round of funding valued at $18 million. Carlyle Venture Partners, which was the lead investor, said its managing director Allan Thygesen will join Rhythm NewMedia's board of directors.

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