TACODA Morgan steering next wave of online ad market

Rich media syndication startup Pictela recently raised a $1.25 million seed round, with participation from serial entrepreneur and online ad pioneer Dave Morgan.

Morgan founded both 1990s ad startup Real Media and TACODA, an early behavioral targeting startup that launched in 2001. TACODA raised $32 million from venture investors, including from Union Square Ventures and Rho Ventures. America Online bought it in 2007 for $275 million.

Real Media raised $30 million from strategic investors. After the bubble’s burst in 2000, it was sold for $30 million into 24/7 Real Media, which in turn was bought by ad giant WPP Group in 2007 for $649 million in 2007.

Pictela isn’t responding to interview requests. La Jolla-based Avalon Ventures, which joined Morgan in the funding, did not respond to a request for comment.

Pictela is one of six investments Morgan has made in the last year. Several of those startups, including Pictela, have been launched by former employees. (Pictela co-founder and CEO Greg Rogers was most recently the vice president of sales at TACODA.)

Morgan, who is based in New York, has also begun a new venture of his own, though he isn’t sharing details just yet.

“I’ve found in startups, you change your mind a bunch of times before you find the right thing, and if you announce too early, then you’re defending every change,” he says.

What Morgan is discussing is where, more broadly, he sees online advertising opportunities in 2009.

For example, while Morgan believes online advertising will “suffer more than people think,” he says he thinks that search will do well. “If you look at the ad recession of 2001, advertising was down but direct response stayed flat. So very direct-response-oriented businesses like search and performance-oriented online advertising will be fine. I think search will actually be up.”

Morgan also predicts Web video will be an increasingly attractive place to park ad dollars. “For many advertisers, it’s seen as not that much different than television,” he says.

Yet perhaps the most promising online ad opportunities this year will center on “next-generation television,” says Morgan.

Morgan is optimistic because TV consumption is up. In November, the Nielsen Co. released numbers indicating that during the third quarter of 2008, the average American spent 142 hours and 29 minutes watching TV each month, up 4.1% from 2007.

At the same time, says Morgan, “consider that we’re seeing more and more a coming together of the sight, sound and motion of television with Internet-like technologies” with “websites can deliver ads to every different browser on their site.”

That, says Morgan, is a very powerful combination, one that no has has figured out how to seamlessly transfer to television watching. It’s why he thinks the next big thing will be combining TV with the “technologies and techniques of the Internet. There’s lot of growth online,” says Morgan, “but when you’re talking about television, you’re talking about a $65 billion year ad market.”