At some point, someone is going to figure out targeted, Google-style TV advertising. Startups and ad agency holding companies are trying their hands at it. So are the cable operators and Google (GOOG) itself. Now Microsoft (MSFT) is, too.
It has bought Waltham, Mass.-based Navic Networks, a 7-year-old firm that targets interactive advertising via cable set-top boxes, for an undisclosed sum. The firm’s technology is in use on 35 million cable customers of Charter Communications (CHTR), Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable (TWC).
Microsoft is getting into TV advertising two years after Google started, but it doesn’t look as if Google has opened up anything like a lead here. Google brought Google TV out of beta in April, but so far it’s limited to DirecTV’s 16 million subscribers, and business has been slow enough that Google has been reduced to offering free spots. So with one acquisition, Microsoft can leap ahead.
Navic’s technology allows advertisers to target individuals as they move from channel to channel, a solution for advertisers trying to achieve mass among fracturing TV audiences. The company has raised $43 million, has 82 employees, and will be integrated into Microsoft’s Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group.