WPP invest in Spot Runner, internet-based advertising agency

30 Oct 2006

Spot Runner today announced that WPP (NASDAQ:WPPGY), CBS Corporation (NYSE: CBS.A and CBS), Interpublic Group (NYSE:IPG) and other institutions have made equity investments in the company. These investments are a strong validation of Spot Runner’s automated, web-based platform----which has advanced the way TV advertising is created, planned and purchased---and of its new initiatives to lead the development of more efficient processes across the full spectrum of both traditional and emerging advertising mediums such as online video, video on demand (VOD) and IPTV. Currently, Spot Runner offers a national footprint to companies looking to advertise on local cable and broadcast stations.

These strategic investments come from three of the world’s largest buyers and sellers of advertising. On the ad buying side, WPP manages approximately $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 web-based platform to help clients target ads across all media channels more effectively at the local level, while maintaining a consistent brand message.

“There is a powerful trend in the advertising arena in which agencies need to focus on creative, but also identify the best vehicles to distribute their creative and reach people wherever they live, work and play,” said Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP. “Spot Runner’s practical and cost-effective solutions are a great complement to our national capabilities and will help our clients market at the most local level.”

IPG views this relationship as an opportunity to add another dimension to its market-leading local, direct response and hyper-targeted communications solutions.
“We believe that the prospects for Spot Runner are strong and we have invested in order to establish a partnership between our two progressive marketing companies,” said Michael Roth, chairman and CEO of Interpublic. “There are considerable synergistic opportunities between the two companies. By linking our strong local media assets across all channels with Spot Runner’s platform, we can deliver unparalleled depth, breadth and automation of services for this local marketing and media sector, which represents about a third of total advertising spending in the United States."

On the ad selling side, CBS’ ad-supported programming reaches tens of millions of viewers every day. 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.

“Spot Runner’s technology provides broadcasters the opportunity to expand the demand for local advertising by providing clients with a quick and easy way to promote their businesses in ways they never thought were available to them,” said Joseph Ianniello, senior vice president of Finance and chief development officer, CBS Corporation. “As the owner of many of the country’s top local broadcast stations, we’re pleased this new technology will not only increase advertising demand but will also continue to allow stations to control their inventory.”

Spot Runner plans to use the new funds to further refine its core local TV advertising solutions and greatly expand its breadth of services to support key emerging mediums such as online video, video on demand and IPTV.

“CBS, WPP and Interpublic are amongst the most forward-thinking leaders in the media and advertising industries. Their investment in Spot Runner is a strong endorsement of our mission to deliver cutting-edge solutions for our mutual clients and of the importance of reaching customers at the local level,” said Nick Grouf, president and CEO of Spot Runner. “We look forward to creating more opportunities for media companies to increase the value of their ad inventory and for ad agencies to target more effectively by creating more efficiencies in the ad buying process.”

The investments by Interpublic, CBS and WPP were part of Spot Runner’s recent $40 million investment round. The round also included investments from Allen & Company, Tudor Investment Corporation, Capital Research and Management, media executive Lachlan Murdoch and financier Vivi Nevo, as well as follow-on investments from Index Ventures and Battery Ventures.