Simulmedia, a company that aims to lift TV ratings through analysis of set-top box data, has raised a $8 million second round led by Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) Investments, the company said. Previous backers Avalon Ventures and Union Square Ventures also participated. The New York company, founded by ex-AOL (NYSE: AOL) exec Dave Morgan, raised $4 million in a first round a little over a year ago. The new funding will be used for continued development of Simulmedia’s technology and set-top-box data services.
Morgan joined AOL after it acquired ad targeter Tacoda, the company he co-founded, in Nov. 2007. He left AOL three months after being named EVP-Global Advertising Strategy. When he started Simulmedia with the idea of focusing a start-up on TV, the idea caused some head-scratching. But as the notion of addressable TV began to take hold as the next holy grail for advertising, the concept didn’t seem so outlandish.
Simulmedia isn’t doing the kind of targeting that Google (NSDQ: GOOG) TV Ads or the cable industry-backed Canoe Ventures is doing. In any case, those audience ad targeting efforts through set-top boxes is still a ways off in reaching their primary goals. The main promise of Simulmedia, at least for now, is to deliver promotions for broadcast and cable TV shows to the right audiences and thereby drive up ratings. The company also has a long way to go in terms of reaching a substantial part of the cable and broadcast universe. So far, it claims to have access to data from 15 million set-top boxes and has conducted 30 field trials with eight different broadcast and cable networks. Simulmedia’s results sound impressive, but also vary widely: for the networks that used its system, it claims to have driven 50- to 350 percent more viewers per program promotion spot than traditional demo-targeted efforts.