Television channels spend a staggering $10 billion every year on commercial spots promoting their own shows. Riding this wave, Simulmedia launched today to increase the relevance of these ads and ultimately boost program ratings by better engaging viewers. The brainchild of Dave Morgan — founder of behavioral ad networks Tacoda and Real Media — the New York-based company just pulled in $4 million in first-round funding to ramp up operations.

Simulmedia will collect large stores of consumer, behavioral and environmental data and analyze them to recommend more effective placement for program promos. Audience fragmentation is a major problem for both broadcast and cable television. With hundreds of channels, DVRed programs and web video options at their fingertips, television viewers are more selective and diffuse than ever before. Scraping together significant ratings for any show, even the American Idols of the bunch, is becoming increasingly difficult. In this environment, channels need to get smarter about how they attract viewers. Bad news for the industry, but a good springboard for Simulmedia.

The company is in the midst of assembling a team of researchers, engineers, scientists and media consultants to help parse the flow of data and generate predictive viewership models. While there are countless marketing firms dedicated to optimizing television ads in general, Simulmedia is the first major player to make program promos its sole focus. And it appears to be a smart niche strategy — specific enough to ease real pain points for TV networks and operators, yet significant enough to their core business to drive revenue.

It seems that Morgan’s even got the recession working for him at this point. “While it’s certainly a very difficult business climate, I believe there are some real advantages to running a startup right now,” he wrote today on MediaPost. “One, you can attract great talent. Two, incumbents that might compete with you tend to retreat back to focus on their core operations. And three, when you have a company that’s still in the ‘pre-revenue’ stage, it doesn’t really matter much that revenue is hard to come by.”

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It will be interesting to see how far this positive attitude takes Morgan and his latest pet project. He certainly has a good track record, having sold Tacoda to AOL for $275 million a little over a year ago.

The recent round of funding came from Avalon Ventures and Union Square Ventures.