Peter Kafka

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Simulmedia Raises $6 Million More for Web-Like TV Ads

Web ad pioneer Dave Morgan has rounded up more money for his move into TV: His Simulmedia has closed a $6 million funding round from previous investors Avalon Ventures, Union Square Ventures and Time Warner’s investment arm.

That brings Simulmedia’s total raise to some $27 million over three years. That money is going into Morgan’s take on “targeted” TV advertising, which promises to merge Web-style targeting with traditional TV ads.

There are lots of people chasing targeted TV ads, and to date none of them have gotten very far. Canoe Ventures, a consortium led by Comcast, Time Warner Cable and the rest of the cable industry, just imploded earlier this year.

The TV guys will probably get there, someday. But in the meantime, Morgan is trying a slightly less ambitious version that he says can work now.

Rather than trying to deliver customized ads to every TV viewer based on their individual set-top-box data, Simulmedia uses some set-top-box data (which it gets from providers like DirecTV, TiVo and AT&T) to try to find undervalued ad inventory. So, in theory, it can help an advertiser find a cheaper way to get in front of a specific audience it wants to reach.

If that sounds a bit like Web advertising, that makes sense. Morgan built two pioneering Internet ad companies — 24/7 Real Media and Tacoda, which were acquired by WPP and AOL — before tackling TV.

Simulmedia says it has run 200 campaigns for 24 brands since it pivoted to its current model (it had originally tried using the same technology to target TV advertising for TV programming), and Morgan says he is “very close to profitability.” This is the second time Morgan has funded the company with an inside round: The same group of investors put in about $9 million a year ago.

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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”