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Five ad agencies, representing about $1.5 billion in spot TV billings, have taken a major step toward automating their spot buying departments.

McCann-Erickson Local Broadcast, Backer Spielvogel Bates, N W Ayer, Grey Advertising and Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, all New York, have signed on as clients of Media Technologies' AdValue Network, a new computerized media buying system.

The network is a service of Media Technologies, which is owned by Westinghouse Broadcasting; Reuters; Radnor Venture Partners, a venture capital affiliate of Safeguard Scientific; and high tech company Cambridge Technology Partners.

McCann was the first to sign on in September; the others have been testing the service since then but only recently signed contracts.

All Group W TV stations are using the service, and Media Technologies expects to sign deals with six TV sales representatives. Several other major TV-station groups are testing the system.

"The stations' position is that they like this system but that the agencies have to start first. They want to know there is someone out there for them to talk to," said David Graves, Media Technologies president.

Mr. Graves likened the AdValue system to computerized ticketing used by the airline industry that automates transactions between carriers and travel agents.

"Spot buying is a communications-intensive business," said Chris Hartman, Grey's senior VP-director of information systems. "Although all parties involved have used computers for a long time, AdValue Network will complete the communications loop electronically among agencies, reps and stations."

Mr. Graves said the system enables agencies to verify exactly when orders were placed or canceled. He said agencies still negotiate and make requests for commercial availabilities via conventional means.

Agencies pay annual fees for the service based on the volume of transactions they make. Mr. Graves said the typical agency cost is in the "six-figure" range annually.

Mr. Graves said he expects to have the system on-line to 100 to 200 TV stations by the end of the year in the top 35 markets.

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