Allied ad agencies to buy, sell online

On the same page

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"We're working to establish protocols so buyers and sellers can look at the same page," said Lotito, who

previously was president-COO of Initiative Media, Interpublic's media planner. "If we can simply take baby steps, we'll help the buyer and seller save a ton of money."

Lotito declined to estimate potential savings platform users might realize.

The Interpublic-Omnicom platform is humble when compared with consortium initiatives in other industries, such as Covisint L.L.C. and Transora. Lotito said the agencies doubted the viability of a b-to-b exchange model for their industry and are gambling that something far simpler has a better chance of succeeding.

"This is not an exchange," Lotito said. "I'm not sure that the more extreme approach would even work."

Glenn Ramsdell, a partner at McKinsey & Co., said the platform stands a chance of succeeding because of its cost reduction-oriented model.

"It would be moving in the right direction," he said. "Our experience working with a lot of these exchanges is that those focused on reducing errors and costs are where the most progress is happening so far."

Some dot-coms, including eMadison Inc., have platforms similar to the one planned by the agencies.

However, advertising executives said the WPP-Interpublic-Omnicom platform stands the best chance of becoming the industry standard, because of the size of the agencies backing it.

"This is really what it's going to take to make sure that it happens in a standard fashion, and that everyone gets on board," said Bill Lynn, Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos Inc.'s lead global technology media strategist.

The company will seek other ad agency financial backers for the platform, Lotito said. It will be open to all users willing to pay a fee, which has not been determined.

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