MEDIAPORT TO CLOSE DOWN OPERATIONS

Holding Company Backers Pull Plug on Media Management System

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- MediaPort, the New York-based media management company created by WPP Group, Interpublic Group of Cos. and Omnicom Group, is closing down, according to executives close to the matter.

MediaPort's president-CEO, Michael Lotito, formerly president-chief operating officer of Interpublic's Initiative Media, has been laid off, as has the company's chief financial officer, Neil Schaffer, who has taken a job with AudioAudit, an advertising verification service.

Media management system
MediaPort was an ambitious operation created over a year ago to develop a standardized, Internet-based media management system for buyers and sellers. When MediaPort was launched it was seen as a direct competitor with DDS, or Donovan Data Systems, which is used by most ad agencies for handling the back-office billings and invoicing side of media buying.

According to executives, the recession made it impossible for the three holding companies to keep funding the operation.

DDS clients
Donovan's client list includes Bcom3 Group's Starcom MediaVest; WPP's MindShare and Mediaedge:CIA; Omnicom's OMD; Interpublic's Initiative Media and Universal McCann; Havas' Media Planning; and Zenith Media, which is jointly owned by Publicis Groupe and Cordiant Communications Group.

MediaPort recently helped develop technical standards for electronic media buying of local broadcast in association with the Television Bureau of Advertising, but the company did not advance much further in its attempt to take on DDS.

DDS acquisition planned
According to executives, rather than continue to attempt to create their own version of DDS from scratch, WPP, Interpublic and Omnicom are now pursing negotiations to acquire DDS. The MediaPort name will be retained and will be used as a corporate identity should these negotiations succeed.

Executives at MediaPort and DDS did not return phone calls at press time.

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