Spot Runner Snags a Major: Microsoft’s Joanne Bradford

Joanne Bradford just made a trade-up that will look to some like a trade-down: She’s surrendered oversight of a digital media conglomerate reaching nearly half a billion people globally for a much humbler gig with small-but-hot Spot Runner.

bradford(2).jpgBradford, until today the chief media officer of MSN’s Media Network, has bid adieu to Microsoft to join the Web-TV crossover ad firm. Her new title, EVP of national marketing services, is certainly a modest appellation for one who previously oversaw ad sales to a purported twelfth of the world’s populace. In the role, she’ll court “national advertisers that are not served by the traditional agency community,” Spot Runner said.

Her departure is a significant blow to Microsoft and huge validation for Spot Runner, which offers TV and Web production and placement services for small to mid-sized businesses, along with some other digital services such as search and local lead-gen.

In her new gig, Bradford will court marketers with national footprints but small budgets. An existing Spot Runner client is a purveyor of home power generators, for example. “When we see a storm rolling in, we turn on their campaigns,” said Spot Runner CEO and Chairman Nick Grouf.

Grouf said the company is very focused on this type of quick and dirty ad optimization for its clients — both from a creative and media standpoint.

“We can turn ads around in days or hours as opposed to weeks or months,” he said. “We’re very good at taking one ad and creating [locally targeted versions]. Advertisers have gone to highly targeted strategies.”

Grouf added Bradford’s background in both online and traditional media should fit well with the company’s dual focus on TV and Web advertising. She’ll start this month and run her own division, with its own P&L statement.

Spot Runner has steadily expanded from its original iteration as a Web platform for producing and placing local TV spots. In January, it bought GlobeShooter, a firm that connects local filmmakers and producers with marketers seeking professional videos. And just last week it acquired Weblistic, a search and online lead-gen firm, to supplement its offline TV-based business. It also announced plans to strengthen its team responsible for local ad sales.

Microsoft appointed Greg Nelson to temporarily replace Bradford while a search is conducted for her successor, according to a staff memo from Search, Portals & Advertising SVP Satya Nadella. Nadella credits Bradford with developing a “world class sales organization” and pioneering the company’s early branded entertainment initiatives for its advertiser clients. That memo was obtained by PaidContent.org.

Bradford is coming off a seven-year career with Microsoft’s Online Services group. After serving as chief revenue officer at MSN she was promoted to head of global media sales for all internal properties, including MSN, Windows Live and Xbox.

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