Online Stock Market for Offline Media Launches

U.K.'s MediaEquals to Trade U.S. Print, Outdoor and Radio Inventory

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Touted as an online stock market for offline media, U.K. company MediaEquals has launched a web-based media trading tool for print, outdoor and radio inventory. Aegis, Publicis Groupe's Starcom and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative are among the buyers participating in the platform, with BBC Magazine and CBS Outdoor participating on the seller side.
Martin Banbury, CEO MediaEquals
Martin Banbury, CEO MediaEquals

MediaEquals' pilot platform will run for about five months and likely go international after that, with TV expected to be added to the inventory at a later date, said Martin Banbury, CEO. Mr. Banbury said the company has already begun talks with agencies and vendors in the U.S to bring the system here.

In a fragmenting media landscape where clients are seeking more accountability from their media investments, buyers and sellers are seeking more efficient systems for their everyday work. The upside of an online trading platform for sellers is they do last-minute deals with ease because they can vet inventory with the whole market. For buyers, having an online platform eliminates much of the administrative work that goes along with their job, freeing them up to focus on other tasks.

'Administrative' benefits
"In the short term, the benefits [for buyers] are probably more administrative," said Danny Donovan, managing director of Initiative London. "There is a lot of data entry that goes on in our industry. [Eliminating that] makes you more efficient because it allows your buyers to spend more time doing the deals and investigating other opportunities from media owners," he said.

MediaEquals isn't the only online trading platform for offline media. Google has versions of its AdWords program for print, radio and TV, and the eBay Media Marketplace allows advertising to make planned buys in the national TV cable market and last-minute buys on radio.

But what makes MediaEquals different, according to the company, it that it is independent -- in other words, they don't have shareholders from media companies or advertising groups. A press release issued by MediaEquals about the new platform says the company has "no vested interested in freezing out agencies" -- perhaps a dig at Google, a company many agencies have fretted about.

Buyer and seller input
Another point of differentiation, according to Mr. Banbury, is that the MediaEquals system has been designed with the input of media buyers and sellers, so it has tools that "that reflect the way that people trade now, in an idiosyncratic way."

Mr. Donovan said the comments and suggestions his agency has made in the development of the platform have been well-received, a "good sign" for the success of the platform. "They have something they want to make work for buyers and sellers," he said.

Though making media and buying more like the stock market often prompts concern of further commoditization of the media industry, Mr. Donovan said he thinks the new system will do just the opposite.

"It will allow more time for discussion between media buyers and sellers about the relative benefits of products," he said. "The media owners will get more time to sell benefits of product and the media buyer will be able to discuss the merits of their clients' business. I think it will change the way buyers and sellers talk," he said.
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