WideOrbit Creates Electronic Spot-Ad ExchangeNew WO Central product will link buyers and sellers 3/23/2010 09:19:00 AM Eastern
WideOrbit, the leading provider of traffic
software to U.S. broadcasters with some
1,100 stations and networks as clients,
has created a new product that it believes will foster
a real-time electronic exchange between buyers and
sellers of TV spots. WO Central will allow ad agencies
and rep firms to directly access the inventory of all
stations running the company’s WO Traffic software.
San Francisco-based WideOrbit says its traffic software
manages more than 50% of spot inventory worth
some $14 billion. The WO Central system will let agencies
and stations negotiate prices, generate orders
and process them automatically in real-time.
“This will allow a buyer to access inventory across
all WO client stations with the click of a mouse,”
says WideOrbit founder and CEO Eric Mathewson.
“So, instead of a buyer calling a rep, hoping that
they’re in, then calling the station and hoping the
station account executive is in, then waiting to get
a response back, they can do that instantly. It will
handle every stage of the buying process from avails
to negotiation to orders to invoices.”
The WO Central product, which is being unveiled at
the 4A’s conference in San Francisco this week, has
entered beta testing and will be first deployed by the
NBC-owned stations. Mathewson says his initial vision
when founding WideOrbit 10 years ago was to create
an electronic exchange, replacing the traditional manual,
paper-intensive spot buying process. But when
the company’s traffic software took off, WideOrbit’s
engineering team focused on growing that business
and put development of the exchange product aside.
While the Television Bureau of Advertising has tackled
the cumbersome workflow of spot buying with
its ePort initiative, Mathewson says WO Central goes
one step better by providing a direct two-way connection
with Donovan Data Systems’ DARE (Direct
Agency Rep Exchange) software, a 20-plus-year-old
system that still handles the vast majority of agency
and rep buys. Integrating with DARE has been difficult
because the software is frequently updated,
and Donovan doesn’t create defined versions of its
system that third parties can use as a benchmark.
But after many months of development work with
Donovan, WideOrbit has figured out a workaround. “It
was hard to do,” Mathewson says.
The WO Central system will make use of ePort as
well, using it to place orders for non-WideOrbit stations.
The initial focus for WO Central will be longform
infomercials, with direct response, political and
brand advertising rolling out later this year.
While the system would appear to negatively impact
rep firms’ business, Mathewson maintains that these
firms will always have their place handling large buys
from major advertisers. He believes WO Central will
make day-to-day spot buying much easier, particularly
for smaller agencies.