WideOrbit Creates Electronic Exchange For TV spots - Broadcasting & Cable

WideOrbit Creates Electronic Exchange For TV spots

New WO Central product will link buyers and sellers
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Updated: 3/9/2010 4:47 PM ET

WideOrbit, which is the leading
provider of traffic software to U.S. broadcasters with some 1100
stations and
networks as clients, has created a new product that it believes will
create a
real-time, electronic exchange between buyers and sellers of TV spots.
The new
system, called WO Central, will allow ad agencies and rep firms to
directly
access the inventory of all stations running the company's WO Traffic
software.

According to San
Francisco-based WideOrbit, its traffic software currently manages over
50% of
spot television inventory and the new WO Central system will provide
direct
online access to some $14 billion in inventory. WO Central will allow
agencies
and stations to negotiate prices, generate orders and process them
automatically on a real-time basis. 

"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, etc."

The WO Central product, which is being unveiled at the 4A's conference in San Francisco this week, has entered beta testing. It will first be deployed on a limited basis by the NBC-owned stations, which will use WO Central's direct linkage to the Donovan system. (Editors' Note: See clarification below.)

Mathewson says his initial vision when founding WideOrbit ten years ago was to create an electronic exchange, replacing the manual, paper-intensive traditional 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 that 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," says
Mathewson.

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 long-form informercials, 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 rep
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.

"We're eliminating a whole
bunch of problems," says Mathewson. "It's a huge change for the
industry."

Letter to the Editor

Although NBC-owned stations, as the article states, will first deploy WideOrbit's WO Central, it will not use the new product to handle all aspects of the media buying and selling process. WideOrbit's WO Central is a new system that allows stations and buyers to streamline the order process, but by no means does it take the agency or station sales force out of the equation. NBC will beta test a streamlined, two-way order process with Donovan agencies later this month. This should improve communication between the NBC station sales force and Donovan Agency Buyers, particularly with order revisions and make-goods. It does not otherwise alter how a buyer would transact with an NBC Local Media representative.
Eric Mathewson
Founder and CEO, WideOrbit, Inc.

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