Google Takes Stake In Targeted-Ad Firm Invidi

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Google has extended its tentacles into the TV business further, having led a funding round of more than $23 million in addressable-advertising vendor Invidi Technologies.

Investors in the latest round -- which brings Invidi to more than $85 million raised to date -- included previous investors Motorola; GroupM, a unit of holding company WPP;  and venture-capital firms Menlo Ventures, InterWest Partners, EnerTech Capital, Westbury Equity Partners and BDC Capital.

As part of Google's commitment to this new relationship, Shishir Mehrotra, director of product management for Google TV Ads and YouTube Ads, has joined Invidi's board of directors. In addition to the funding, Google and Invidi have agreed to work together on "projects of mutual interest."

The Google TV Ads service lets advertisers purchase Dish Network local ad inventory on 100 TV networks, as well as select national avails with programmers including NBC Universal and Bloomberg TV.

In addition, Google reportedly is working with Sony, Intel and Logitech to develop Web-enabled TVs, set-tops and Blu-ray Disc players that would use the search giant's Android operating system, originally developed for mobile phones.

"Google and GroupM share our vision that addressability will transform television advertising by increasing effectiveness and eliminating wasted reach," Invidi CEO David Downey said in a statement.

Google's Mehrotra commented, "Invidi Technologies is actively advancing the growth of addressable technologies, which brings more relevance to TV viewership and advertising. We're happy to join Invidi's investors, and we're looking forward to seeing continued progress in this space."

Separately, Google also is a partner with Visible World, another addressable-advertising firm. "We continue to enjoy our partnership with Google TV," Visible World CEO Seth Haberman said in a statement. "We are happy that there is continued interest and activity in the addressable advertising space. Today's news benefits everyone seeking to further the advertising industry."

Invidi's system allows ads to be targeted nationally, regionally, by DMA, zone, household or individual viewer, based on specific demographics.

Comcast Spotlight, for one, tested the Invidi technology with Starcom MediaVest in the operator's Baltimore system, serving targeted ads to 60,000 subscribers in a six-month trial that concluded last year. According to the companies, the trial showed addressable ads to be 65% more efficient and 32% more effective than non-addressable spots.

Invidi also has agreements with DirecTV and Dish Network, and claims that it is in "active negotiations" to deploy its technology with cable system operators.

In addition, Verizon Communications is using Invidi to deliver different ads in different zones in the telco's Rhode Island and New York/New Jersey markets.

Invidi, based in New York City, was founded in 2000.

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