Roehm's idea for TV-buying auction still has support

Wal-Mart may drop out of e-Media Exchange, but others forge ahead

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julie roehm's career at Wal-Mart might be over, but her idea of establishing an online media exchange is still on. A group of advertisers involved in e-Media Exchange, a new system of buying media via an online auction, met yesterday to further the project. The group's aim: rationalizing the TV-buying business and providing greater transparency on pricing.

Participants did not want to discuss details, but one executive said the group will continue to forge ahead with or without Wal-Mart's participation. It is unclear whether Wal-Mart will remain part of the project now that Ms. Roehm has departed. Ms. Roehm, when she was a marketing executive at DaimlerChrysler, famously raised the prospect of transforming the upfront into something more akin to Nasdaq, proposing a plan to trade spots in an open market. The idea was criticized for being unworkable, but Ms. Roehm pursued it on a smaller scale and brought in eBay to develop technology for the project.

The auction system is backed by both the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies. Other marketers involved in the launch include Toyota brand Lexus and Micrsoft. Marketers have committed around $50 million to an initial phase, though it's unclear whether any networks have committed airtime.

"Julie started the dialogue and brought it to the attention of everyone," one executive present at the meeting said. "The idea is a good one, and the way it is morphing into a way of doing business is not a bad idea. The industry is supporting it now."
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