Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

A Web Ad Guy’s Third Act: Better TV Ads for TV Shows

30-rock-adDave Morgan made his reputation, and fortune, by building RealMedia and Tacoda–two pioneering Web advertising technology companies. So it’s no surprise to see him launch another ad start-up.

But this time, Morgan has abandoned the Web for TV.

And Morgan’s Simulmedia, which just announced a $4 million funding round led by Union Square Ventures and Avalon Ventures, isn’t even going after the TV of the future.

Instead, it’s chasing an odd niche that exists today: television commercials for television shows–e.g., the ads NBC runs during “The Office” to try to get you to watch “30 Rock.”

Morgan says this is a $10 billion business, and argues that most of the money spent on it is wasted. He says his company can solve that with software that swaps

    out different spots depending on factors like geography, timing, and even weather. Weather? Well, in advance of last Sunday’s snowstorm in New York, he says, his clients-to-be could have run ads letting parents know about all the kids’ programming available on their cable system.

    This sounds similar to lots of other efforts to make TV advertising more Web-like by serving up different ads to different viewers based on who they are and what they watch. Basically, a variant of the behavioral targeting technology that made Tacoda worth $275 million to Time Warner’s (TWX) AOL, which bought the Morgan’s company in 2007.

    But Morgan, who spent less than five months at AOL as an EVP before bolting, says his start-up is chasing a different market, using different techniques. He explains why in this interview:


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work