If desktop publishing ignited an underwhelming explosion of vanity presses, Spot Runner has a different idea cooking for TV, one that could be incendiary. Imagine the doctors, dentists, car dealerships, local restauranteurs, insurance salesmen and realtors who will take advantage of the startup’s Internet-based model for ordering up TV spots as easily as personalized greeting cards. Prospects pick from 1,000 generic modules of pre-existing, professionally shot spots that cost as little as $500 to lease. They add their own title cards and/or voiceovers and taglines. Most seductive (since everyone thinks they know as much as the top media buyers about what people like to watch) is a detailed media schedule with à la carte prices that’s as user-friendly as ordering an item from an Internet retailer. What’s more, the spot-cable prices are likely to cause reverse sticker-shock. Bravo in Berkeley, Calif.—organic, lefty-co-op-produced, neo-hippy product merchants take note—between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. will cost you a whopping $5. Want to advertise pizza delivery on ESPN when the Cal/Berkeley Bears are playing? That will run you $88—the profit on, say, 30 large pies? Nick Grouf and David Waxman, who started and sold PeoplePC and Firefly, founded Spot Runner. The implications of a TV-commercial distribution model cheaper than direct mail could be far reaching.
—Posted by Gregory Solman