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Spot Runner Buys Weblistic: Local Search on Video Steroids

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Today Spot Runner announced its acquisition of Weblistic, a provider of local online advertising, in an all-stock transition. Spot Runner is an internet-based television ad agency headquartered in Los Angeles. The company says in its press release, “The acquisition of Weblistic will enable Spot Runner to correlate TV and online advertising with phone- and Web-based responses to provide tracking, analysis and results.”

The result promises to be an integrated offering of online, TV, and radio advertising for small businesses in their local markets. Spot Runner's press release cites proprietary iProspect-Jupiter Research study proving the value of TV in search engine marketing:

"TV advertising is the number one impetus for people to search for a particular company or product online, surpassing all other forms of advertising, even word of mouth (iProspect Offline Channel Influence on Online Search Behavior Study conducted by Jupiter Research, June 2007)"

The acquisition is part of a greater trend that The Kelsey Group's Michael Boland labeled the "Webification of Small Businesses." This is where B2B companies lure small businesses in with traditional funnel marketing techniques, starting with a free service in the hopes that SMBs will upgrade to premium services in the future.

If you're a small business, you're unlikely to have the in-house resources to handle a broad marketing strategy. Since Spot Runner handles everything from production to placement, adding the coordination of Weblistics online advertising services looks like a win-win for both companies as well as their customers.

Spotrunner was initially dubbed by the media as "Google Adwords for TV." Now that Google TV Ads has broadened its reach, competition will heat up. As Spot Runner chases Google, Google TV Ads may find itself wondering who let the dogs out.

Google doesn't produce TV commercials,but it boasts a network of video production companies to help new TV advertisers. Videos submitted through the system are vetted for quality.

The deal consolidates the local search space further: deep-pocketed Weblistic competitor ReachLocal hired a huge salesforce to sell PPC (paid search) and SEO (search engine optimization) to small and medium-sized enterprises. Merchant Circle relies more on telemarketing to scale SMB customer acquisition. Weblistic found itself squeezed in the middle with a smaller sales force and telemarketing efforts.

The combined Spot Runner and Weblistic teams now face a univeral search challenge as SMBs start optimizing SERPs for blended search and, eventually, video highly-targeted video ads.


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