Data-driven television advertising is picking up steam. So too are the analytics companies that are driving the data.
iSpot.tv, an analytics firm that tracks national TV ads and related digital activity in real-time, on Tuesday announced it has closed a $21.9 million Series B round of funding. The round was led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from existing investor Madrona Venture Group.
iSpot’s platform looks at real-time digital activity -- including social media posts, search results and online video plays -- and correlates it to TV spots. The platform is meant to give marketers a real-time look at how their national TV campaigns are being responded to by consumers.
Sean Muller, CEO and founder of iSpot.tv, told Real-Time Daily that the company’s clients commonly use iSpot's data to decide on certain creative elements. “Our data helps them understand immediately which creative variations get the best consumer attention,” Muller explained, adding, “On which networks and shows do my ads get the best consumer attention?”
Muller noted that clients also keep tabs on competitors using this real-time data, saying that he’s seen marketers increase or decrease spend based on a competitor’s behavior.
As iSpot is more of a real-time marketing analytics company than an ad tech company (it has no buying platform), iSpot is not as closely tied to the programmatic TV industry as it might appear. “Our business is growing with or without automation,” Muller said. But that’s not to say he’s not rooting for the budding corners of programmatic TV to bloom.
“To have automation, you need to have the measurement in real-time to take automated action,” Muller said. “We’ve partnered with some of those digital players [making moves in programmatic TV], and they are leveraging our data.
“For programmatic to happen in TV, you need three things,” he continued. “One, you need the actual tech platforms on both sides to enable automation for television -- and there is some good technology out there. Two, you need the publishers to put up inventory on these platform to transact against -- and you’re starting to see some of that happen, but most of the big publishers are still holding back from programmatic for the time being. And three, you need a data flow to come into the system where you can automate from the buy-side.”
That final component is where Muller sees iSpot playing a role -- buyers using iSpot’s data to feed their algorithms when it comes to deciding which creative to play and when and where to play it. However, programmatic TV industry is "still very, very nascent," Muller acknowledged.
iSpot will use the $22 million raised to invest in product development (which may bring them closer to the type of real-time data TV marketers could use when buying programmatically), grow its team and prepare to “unveil new capabilities.” Muller hinted that one of those capabilities will revolve around the viewability of TV advertising, and while he wouldn’t go into great detail about the planned product or what exactly “viewability” in TV means, he asserted it’s an issue that’s top of mind for on-demand and OTT TV advertisers.
iSpot raised $900,000 in a seed round in 2012, followed by a $5 million Series A round in 2013.