Group M Launches Bartering Unit Midas Exchange

With Other Media Shops Finding Success, WPP Gets Into the Business, Hiring Kladopoulos as President

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- GroupM, WPP's media holding company, is entering the world of media bartering with a new unit called the Midas Exchange.

Kathy Kladopoulos
Kathy Kladopoulos
Media bartering, the practice of finding a buyer for a marketer's distressed asset -- from old airplanes to office furniture -- and swapping them for media credits that can then be used to fund media buys, saw a resurgence during the recession.

Media agencies, looking for new avenues of growth and ways to help clients secure ad inventory for less, invested in their bartering units with positive results, with some firms seeing year-over-year growth in the area, anywhere from 40% to 80%. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Orion Trading and Omnicom Group's Icon are the other players in the space.

WPP said it started Midas Exchange at the behest of clients that wanted all their media functions, including bartering, handled under the Group M umbrella. Midas Exchange will now work for Group M clients but will be an autonomous operation completely separate from the media agencies -- Mindshare, MediaCom, Mediaedge:cia and Maxus -- and their buying teams.

WPP named Kathy Kladopoulos president at Midas Exchange; she had most recently been exec VP-managing director of Aegis's Carat Trade, which she launched nine years ago.

Many WPP clients currently use independent shops to handle trading, which isn't always for the best, said Ms. Kladopoulos. "Independent trade companies working outside a network don't always work toward the common goal, which is to deliver an optimal media product and use corporate trade where it is most advantageous to the client," she said in a statement. "The integration of this service with the strategic media plan is critical to achieve success."

The unit will have greater access to key ad inventory on desirable networks because of its relationship with Group M Entertainment, which will even allow it to trade original TV programming for advertising inventory, Ms. Kladopoulos said.

"We plan to work directly with WPP through Group M Entertainment to produce and/or license TV programming to television networks in exchange for inventory access to be used by the Midas Exchange," Ms. Kladopoulos said.

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