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Investors are pumping money into TV measurement startups



woman watching tv
/ Keirsten Marie

  • The analytics startup has raised $30 million
    in Series C funding.
  • The company is one of a handful of firms promising
    advertisers better information on ad viewership and performance
    by pulling data directly from TVs.
  • The funding is part of a larger push among investors to
    figure out a better way of tracking TV ads and proving they
    work, as the medium looks to protect its $70 billion ad haul
    from digital titans Facebook and Google.

Ad budgets are threatening to leak out of TV, in part because
digital media is seen as providing brands better data to track
whether their ads are working.

So venture capital is starting to pour into the TV industry,
aiming to help the medium get better at analytics.

Case in point: The Bellevue, Washington-based startup has raised $30 million to
help accelerate its TV ad measurement alternative.

iSpot is one of a handle of tech companies to emerge in the past
few years promising better, more digital-media-like measurement
of TV.

Instead of using old fashioned panels or ‘Nielsen people meters,’
companies like iSpot, Samba TV, and Alphonso pull data directly
from smart TV screens.

These firms, which collectively have raised upwards of $100
million in recent years, claim to have real, direct data on what
people are watching at a given moment and what ads are on
screens. In iSpot’s case, it has a deal with the TV manufacturer

Critics of these firms say that while their data is valuable,
each is limited to a specific universe of people who own certain
TVs. And these firms are only able to pull raw data from what is
on TV, not who is watching.

But, iSpot and others are promising advertisers they can go
further than just tracking ads. They can in various ways match up
data on consumers with advertisers’ data, ideally helping
advertisers figure out if their ads lead to sales inquiries or

iSpot founder and CEO Sean Muller said the company already works
with 200 brands such as T-Mobile to help them better understand
how their ads are performing, and that iSpot’s revenue has
doubled over the past year.

iSpot.TV founder and CEO
Sean Muller

“There is a $70 billion market that is shifting rapidly,” he told
Business Insider. “The goal is not to replace Nielsen, but we see
the market moving toward a performance or business outcome

The ability to track which ads lead to which results is typically
referred to as attribution in ad circles. It’s where Facebook and
Google are seen as having a massive advantage. That’s a gap TV
needs to close, and iSpot thinks it can help.

Muller said that iSpot didn’t need to raise money, but as the
company grew his investors saw an opportunity to go bigger. The
plan is to invest in engineering talent, more consultative
offerings for clients, and ideally getting iSpot’s tracking data
plugged into more TVs.

It’s unlikely that iSpot will be able to completely lock up that
market, Muller said. Samsung for example, has it’s own ad
tracking system, while Sony
works with Samba
. Plus, there has been
some recent consumer backlash
against TV companies tracking
viewing without people’s express permission.

“Three companies make up 85% for the TV market, and we have one
of them. You can’t capture every single touchpoint on TV. No one
can. But we think we have the largest opt in platform for
tracking TV on the planet.”

This new funding represents iSpot’s series C round. Investors
included Insight Venture Partners and Madrona Venture Group. has raised $57.8 million to date

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