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Invidi Scores Big in C Round

Invidi Technologies Corp. , a startup that builds targeted advertising systems for cable operators, satellite companies, and telcos, has attracted a new round of funding worth $25 million, despite not having any publicly disclosed trials or deployments during its seven years in existence.

That didn't stop GroupM from leading yesterday's round, which included prior investors Menlo Ventures , InterWest Partners , and EnerTech Capital. In the latest round, WPP, a company under the GroupM umbrella, came away with a minority stake in Invidi. (See Invidi Bags $25M .)

To date, the Princeton, N.J.-based startup has raised more than $53 million. Founded in 2000, it has about 35 employees

Invidi receives the new cash infusion just as the cable industry moves ahead on a massive advertising project. "Canoe" is the code-name for the initiative, but the original CableLabs request for information, issued in August, was titled "Advanced Cable Advertising Platform." It's believed that more than 60 companies responded. (See Cable's 'Canoe' RFI Paddles Toward Deadline.)

One of Invidi's claims to fame is Advatar, a proprietary system that infers information based on "audience classifiers" that can supposedly identify a viewer's gender, approximate age, location, income, and ethnicity. Advertisers could use this information to target messages in a way that's been the primary domain of Internet-based advertising.

To keep consumer data protected, demographic targeting decisions do not leave the digital set-top, according to Invidi, which competes in the sector with the likes of OpenTV Corp. (Nasdaq: OPTV), Visible World , and BlackArrow Inc. (See BlackArrow Aims Targeted VOD Ads .)

In the world of cable vendors, Invidi says it's got relationships with Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Scientific Atlanta , as well as audience measurement giant Nielsen.

Earlier this year, Invidi demonstrated its Viewer Inference Engine at a CableLabs enhanced TV (ETV) interoperability demo, showing how addressable ads could be inserted on both Motorola and SA headends and set-tops. For the demo, Invidi also hooked into digital video systems from Terayon Communication Systems (now part of Motorola), BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND), and C-COR Corp. (Nasdaq: CCBL).

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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