Latest Startup from Tacoda Founder Brings Science to TV Promos

As the rest of the advertising world moves from TV to digital, Dave Morgan, founder of online ad companies RealMedia and Tacoda, is going in the other direction.

Morgan announced this morning that he is launching Simulmedia, a New York-based startup that will help TV networks and studios place their on-air promos in front of the best possible audiences.

“Virtually everybody in the U.S. sees the same promotions in the same time slots in the same programs at the same times, yet we know that people’s viewing interests and habits are dramatically different by geography. People in Southern California at the beach watch different TV than the people in the mountains of Pennsylvania,” he said. “There’s a good chance for someone to come in and try to help bring some science to the table and bring some marketing to it.”

Morgan was vague on details of how such a system would work, and said it would be several months before Simulmedia had a product on the market. “We’re in the research and development phase, quietly working with a few folks to develop the technology and science,” he said.

But he did offer some clues. What Morgan envisions is not an Amazon-like system that determines which promo a household sees based on past behavior and algorithms. Viewers living next door to one another will not see different promos, for example. Rather, the system will work “within the existing cable TV structure,” he said, using demographic information to help TV networks and studios buy more appropriate media time for their promos, without regard for which networks they appear on.

“If you start thinking about focusing on the person, the viewer, and not just the program, then you start looking at a lot of optimization techniques that are available today,” he said.

Morgan was also vague on how exactly Simulmedia would work with clients. He said the company would not be producing software, but it also would not be a traditional consultancy.

“We’re gong to be providing a service, not a consulting service, not a consultancy in the way you would think of it,” he said. “We’ll be able to talk about that later this year.”

Morgan has secured $4 million in funding from Avalon Ventures and Union Square Ventures.

Interest in Simulmedia is likely to be high considering his background. In 2001 Morgan founded Tacoda, an online advertising company that helped pioneer behavioral online marketing and was acquired by AOL in 2007 for $275 million. Before that he founded Real Media, which eventually became 24/7 Real Media and was sold to WPP Group for $649 million. He is also chairman of The Tennis Company, which operates, Tennis magazine, and Smash magazine.

Related reading