Spot Runner lands $40 million
The company has created a system that identifies unsold TV spots on Bravo, ESPN and the hundreds of other networks that have sprung up in the cable revolution. It then sells them to local businesses. The ads can be broadcast nationwide, but most small businesses buy ads to run only in their region, which costs less.
A 30-second spot, particularly one that's not running at 8 p.m., is cheaper than one might think. In a demonstration in March, founder Nick Grouf logged on to the service and showed how individuals could buy spots on various cable networks for broadcasting in Berkeley, Calif., for around $18. Companies buy spots through a search, point-and-click menu.
"I'd like to buy a spot on ESPN and say, 'I hate football,'" said one French observer at the demonstration.
The low cost comes from the fact that most of these networks have lots of spare inventory. Every one of those promos on the History Channel for "Viking Week" represents 30 seconds that the network failed to sell.