Spot Runner Says Two Can Play this Game

Forget Microhoo, maybe its Spot Runner that Google should be worried about. Today’s Media Post Online Media Daily covered Spot Runner’s acquisition of Weblistic, “an online media company specializing in search, and some display advertising.”

Per MediaPost, “the deal is part of a push by Spot Runner to offer a fully automated online advertising and media buying system that anyone can use to create, buy, schedule and evaluate advertising on any medium.”

Boy, sure sounds like Google’s vision to me. What’s ironic here is that Google backed into offline media after having cornered the market on long-tail search advertising. Here you have Spot Runner trying to crack search media after having cornered the market on long-tail TV advertising.

I’m not sure which company is better positioned to make a significant impact on the new media platforms they are entering…

By all accounts, Google’s forays into TV, radio, and print have been slow to gain traction (slow by Google standards, that is). But you can’t count out anyone with a bankroll in the billions. And Google is hiring all sorts of Madison Ave. types to help it really improve its solution set.

As for Spot Runner -- they seem to have the proper insight into what makes TV tick for the long-tail. They approached the market to fill a gap that they identified and a constituency that had long been underserved -- not merely to find a new revenue stream like Google did when getting into TV. Only time will tell if this insight will translate well into the search world, which is already mature (hah, can’t believe I’m saying that!) with arguably few gaps to fill -- or at least gaps Spot Runner can do anything about.

What does Weblistic bring to the table? I must admit I don’t know much about them. I queried their brand name and their top natural listing has a brutal meta description so I immediately question their search prowess. Apparently, these are the guys behind prior to its acquisition by AT&T so they must have some good business and tech savvy.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. I’m sure it will take time for Spot Runner and Weblistic to integrate so we’ll have to give them some leash before making any judgment. Fortunately for them, their penetration of the new markets they’re entering into will not be evaluated with the same scrutiny as Google so they can likely afford to take their time and get it right.

Unfortunately, though, getting it right is only one side of the equation -- scaling it is the other. Without the millions of advertisers that Google has, I’m not sure how receptive publishers in the online space will be to giving their inventory to Spot Runner. However, given that Spot Runner is part owned by IPG and WPP, their Fortune 5 advertisers could bring some serious clout to the new platform.

Alas, only time will tell if this acquisition hits the spot for the online media ecosystem.

Update 11/3: It looks like the verdict is in. Per ClickZ, Spot Runner can't find the synergy between their video and search businesses and are looking to sell off Weblistic.

Posted by: Aaron Goldman, VP Marketing & Strategic Partnerships


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