How Home Depot Used EBay to Buy Oxygen

And Why the Women's Network Likes Selling Its Inventory by Auction

By Published on .

NEW YORK ( -- Mary Jeanne Cavanagh, exec VP-ad sales for Oxygen, got some great news from eBay in her inbox recently. The e-mail wasn't informing her of her winning bid on a rare tchotchke for her living room, however. Ms. Cavanagh had just closed an ad deal with Home Depot for the women's cable network without even picking up the phone.

Simpler buying method
The Home Depot deal is the second Ms. Cavanagh has closed using the eBay Media Marketplace following a similar auction with Intel last month. The Media Marketplace functions differently from eBay's normal auction process, using an electronic request-for-proposal system that allows buyers and sellers to conduct business entirely online while remaining unaware of the competing parties in the deal.

In the case of Home Depot, the process represents a simpler form of buying cable inventory in an increasingly complicated scatter marketplace. "The exchange ... offers a simple and efficient way to keep track of multiple RFPs and details regarding each of them. It is important we begin to work with online RFP platforms in order to maintain competitive advantage and to ensure our agency resources are effectively utilized," a spokesman for the retailer said in an e-mail.

For Ms. Cavanagh, the Home Depot win represents new business she might not have had access to otherwise in the crowded marketplace. "We've been pitching them for a while, so it was great we got them on the air, and even more exciting that we did it through eBay," Ms. Cavanagh said.

Ads aimed at women
The "mid-six-figure" deal comprises inventory in both the third and fourth quarter, and ended up earning the network more money than the rate card suggested. "I kept the integrity of my rate card, which is very important," she said. She added that Home Depot will use its newly bought airtime to plug its in-store DIY workshops aimed at young women, a change from its usual messaging geared toward its core male purchasers.

Oxygen's client base has seen considerable growth over the last 18 months as the network establishes itself as a destination for targeting women 18 to 24. August was the highest-rated month in the network's seven-year history, due in large part to the second season of its Tori Spelling reality series "Tori & Dean: Inn Love" and a one-hour special featuring singer/actress Mandy Moore. The network also relaunched its website,, in early 2006 and has added a digital sales team under Ms. Cavanagh's command. Last month, the network even partnered with Bud.TV in a bid to expand its reach to the young, beer-drinking set.

The Home Depot spokesman said the company will continue to use the eBay Media Marketplace in the future as a result of its recent transaction with Oxygen. "We anticipate further activity will occur on the Media Marketplace and look forward to increased participation by additional cable networks and additional marketers/agencies. The overall goal will be to continue to enhance speed to market, create greater ease in transaction and standardized processes, while maintaining competitive pricing for our RFPs."
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