What do you get when the people who started PeoplePC and FireFly Network get together for round three?
Spot Runner, a new Internet based Ad Agency. Spot Runner is attempting to bring broadcast television commercials to the masses of local advertisers for as little as $500. That’s right, $500 and that will include production, planning and air time for five Benjamins.
You probably recognize the name, PeoplePC, but may not recognize FireFly right away (at least I didn’t). FireFly was the company that made FireFly Passport, which Microsoft purchased and renamed Microsoft Passport. Yeah, we all recognize that one. PeoplePC is the company they sold to Earthlink.
Whenever two entrepreneurs like Nick Grouf and David Waxman, who have managed to strike gold twice before get together, you should take notice. But that’s not what caught my attention at first, it was their new product Spot Runner and the implications it could have for local advertisers of all kinds (including mom and pops, recruitment advertisers and many more small to medium sized businesses that want a T.V. presence on a craigslist budget).
Why am I writing about T.V. advertising on a blog about Interactive advertising? Because online video, or Internet T.V. ads, are really making a big splash right now for all the right reasons (they work great for both brand and direct response advertisers) and local advertisers of all kinds need help with broadcast production at affordable prices. Spot Runner is demonstrating just how easy and inexpensive that could become and I expect to see this model with an online focus very soon. In fact, I’m shocked that Spot Runner isn’t launching with this option, especially since BusinessWeek journalist, Justin Hibbard mentioned that Spot Runner was ‘building a platform for managing online and off-line advertising campaigns.’ on his August, 2005 post.
Common guys – why are you holding out on us? Actually, I’m sure similar services already exist for inexpensive online video production but I doubt they have the Video-Ads-for-Dummies like feel of Spot Runner.
The growth of online video is having a dramatic impact on local T.V. station revenues as I outlined in my previous post on the topic. Although Spot Runner isn’t going after online video production just yet, you can bet it won’t be long before they do so.
Where does this fit in and how will it work?
Back when the Internet first took off in the mid-90’s, the local advertising space was right at the top of the list of nuts that major advertising publishers wanted to crack because local represented then, as it does now, the largest, and most profitable sector of advertising.
While local Telco Yellow Pages, local newspapers and now Google and Yahoo! slug it out in local search there remains a huge void for local advertisers who will be eager to utilize ‘sexy’ broadcast creative and distribution in their online media mix. I know these advertisers intimately. I’ve called on thousands of them in my career while selling for the Yellow Pages and online newspaper companies I’ve worked at for the last seventeen years (Knight Ridder Digital, SMARTpages.com, Pacific Bell Yellow Pages and GTE Yellow Pages).
I’ve sold against T.V. successfully for a long time and their Achilles’ heel was always production and air time costs. Spot Runner plans to change that by leveraging their proprietary technology to ‘templatize’ T.V. ad production. Spot Runner allows businesses to log on, provide information about their business and desired locations, and select a commercial from a library of thousands of pre-produced ads. The ads are personalized with the business’s specific information and logos.
We did this at Pacific Bell’s SMARTpages.com (originally launched as Pacific Bell @Hand) back in the 90’s as a way to bring super efficient ad creation and low costs to mom and pop Yellow Pages advertisers who were enticed by web advertising but lacked a web site or the knowledge and tools to create an online ad. The technology matched company industries with appropriate clip-art and created a banner ad on the fly with the advertisers ad copy. In this way a local florist could have their first Internet ad for under the Telemarketer magic dollar threshold of $19.99 a month.
Stuff like this makes me to want to start a locally specialized ad agency that creates, bundles and manages all this cool local advertising like local search, pay-per-call, local video, behavioral targeting, geographically targeted e-mail…er, don’t get me started!