Investors are pumping money into TV measurement startups hoping to stop Facebook and Google from stealing the $70 billion TV ad market

woman watching tv

  • The analytics startup iSpot.tv 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 iSpot.tv 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 Vizio.

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 purchases.

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.

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“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 business.”

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. iSpot.tv has raised $57.8 million to date

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