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Spot Runner Tackles Legal Field

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NEW YORK If you think there are already too many lawyer solicitations on cable TV, prepare yourself for a new deluge of ads from attorneys.

Local TV ad system Spot Runner has inked a deal with Reed-Elsevier unit LexisNexis Martindale-Hubble to offer law firms inexpensive, customized commercials. Spot Runner will create a batch of a dozen 30-second clips, which can be edited to include law firms' contact information for play in local markets.

The deal is the latest foray by Spot Runner into professional services. It has a partnership with Realogy to provide ad services to local real-estate agents and the Diamond Promotion Service to target regional jewelers.

Martindale-Hubble will give Spot Runner access to nearly 1 million lawyers, said Kurt Weinsheimer, vp, partner development at Spot Runner. "It's a multi-billion-dollar category with most of the advertising done offline in Yellow Pages and print, where you've seen a decline in readership," Weinsheimer said.

The first batch of spots is geared to law firms specializing in personal injury, drunk driving, general practice and family law. Spot Runner plans to add more categories based on demand.

The company's campaigns typically cost as little as $1,500 for creative and a month of local cable and/or broadcast time.

Spot Runner has gained attention and investment with its efforts to automate the creation and placement of TV spots. Both WPP Group and Interpublic Group have invested in the company, which plans to expand its platform to include Internet video and radio.

Its partnership approach is a departure from its original plan to create a self-service model for local businesses, much like Google's search advertising platform.

In the Martindale-Hubble deal, law firms will not have a hand in crafting media plans, but will give budget and market information to their company rep, who will then create a media plan. Martindale-Hubble already provides marketing services to its clients.