Spot Runner Takes Full Service Approach, Looks to Build Sales Staff

In addition to acquiring Web marketing firm Weblistic, Spot Runner aims to expand its sales force to go after more local advertisers. The second acquisition made this year by Spot Runner, Weblistic will add search marketing and other online lead generation offerings to the company’s local TV ad targeting and media buying business.

“Obviously online is an important tool for local businesses…Our customers have been asking us to supply this service to them for some months now,” said Spot Runner co-founder David Waxman.

Local advertisers, be they national chains seeking localized messaging and targeting or small mom-and-pop operations, often use advertising to generate new client leads. Weblistic’s technology, built by developers of YellowPages.com’s platform, brings lead generation and measurement to the mix of ad options Spot Runner is building. Weblistic offers search engine marketing, search engine optimization, and online directory management, along with Web video production, which has become a focus for Spot Runner.

“It’s really about lead generation” through search advertising and optimization, said Waxman.

As part of its mission to better serve local advertisers, Spot Runner plans to expand its sales staff, just broadened through the Weblistic acquisition. “We will be aggressively growing the sales force. We’ll start the growth immediately,” said Waxman, who would not reveal how many salespeople the company expects to hire.

Though originally created as a Web-based platform for creating and placing local TV spots, the firm is branching out into Web video production. In January, it purchased GlobeShooter, a company that pairs local filmmakers and producers with advertisers seeking professionally-produced, customized Web videos. Spot Runner already offers stock photos and ads to advertisers seeking a less-pricey service.

The Weblistic integration will start immediately. The firm and its current staff will remain in Fremont, CA, and no executive changes are planned, according to Waxman. Weblistic CEO Ketan Shah will head up product, technology, and operations for Spot Runner’s online marketing services.

“Spot Runner is repositioning itself as a 360-degree marketing promotions company. This is what they’re aspiring to,” said Peter Krasilovsky, principal of local media consulting firm Krasilovsky Consulting and program director, Marketplaces for The Kelsey Group.

As the local Web advertising sector grows, local media firms including yellow pages directory publishers and local guide sites have begun offering video ad services to clients. Firms including Yellow Book USA, Idearc Media’s IYP provider Superpages.com, and IAC/InterActiveCorp’s Citysearch have introduced video ad products through partnerships with local video firms including TurnHere and Denver Multimedia.

In developing video offerings, these companies are “betting that local businesses will spend a lot on video, and we don’t know the answer to that,” said Krasilovsky.

For Spot Runner, the goal is to offer an array of complementary ad services that, when combined, are more effective and measurable than cable TV, radio, and Web ads alone. “From day one, we’ve said internally that we are media agnostic,” Waxman told ClickZ News. “Video is an incredibly important part of that, but we also need to make sure that we’re maximizing all channels that can be successful for our customers.”

Search marketing services enabled through the Weblistic acquisition will be the main products supplementing Spot Runner’s TV and Web video offerings. “The power of television combined with SEM is hugely valuable; the sum is greater than its parts,” said Waxman.

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