January 3, 2012 – 7:26 pm
As MediaBank awaits regulatory approval of its merger with rival media buying software provider Donovan Data Systems, the company's AdBuyer DSP unit will underpin a new system designed to more completely integrate it with its ad agency clients' trading desks.
MediaBank has begun marketing a "white label" solution that it says will serve to complement existing agency trading desks serve to power the real-time bidding processes of smaller ad shops that can't afford to operate one on their own, the company told Mediapost's Joe Mandese.
For the most part, both MediaBank and Donovan have been trying to expand the methods of online media buying and selling to traditional media through their mutual software offerings. AdBuyer was acquired by MediaBank last April, with the promise of making the DSP available to clients through its MediaBank O|X and A|V media management systems and broadening AdBuyer’s cross-channel capabilities across all major media, not just the web.
While most TV media buying is still done through old-fashioned approaches, the rise of agency trading desks at the global ad holding companies over the past two years seems to be finally ready to move beyond online to embracing some form of audience buying for all media formats. So the plan is to roll out the white label solution and allow agencies to customize the open-system software to their current trading desk operations.
In other words, MediaBank executives say that they in no way want to compete with the agency trading desks.
"The agencies are our bread and butter," said John Bauschard, president of MediaBank Marketplaces. "So why would we try to compete with them? As for those agencies who don't have one, this is a great support system. For a long time, audience buying was on the periphery. But things have changed. Opening up AdBuyer's services as a tool agencies can customize is important because it's no longer agencies using a DSP per transaction. It's a permanent part of the process."
Kurt Unkel, SVP, VivaKi Nerve Center, doesn't regard Mediabank's white label solution as competition to the existing trading desk framework: "It's actually a technology platform to enable trading desks, so we'll consider it, just as we do with any of our potential DSP partners. We have a really extensive review process to vet such technology, which we'll run potential partners through before making any short or long term decisions. If we see something really compelling/differentiated in the new offering and feel it's worth a trial run to gauge scalability / sustainability, we'll test it. No comment on plans to do or not do that today."
The other important part of rolling out this new service is meant to demonstrate that MediaBank isn't simply waiting for its merger with DDS to go through. In terms of reaction, several media buyers said that the news is also meant to send a message that MediaBank is not about to become a closed-system, which is how DDS is largely viewed.
Secondly, it's also meant to validate the acquisition of AdBuyer after over six months and show that it has been integrating its system into the wider company, as it prepares to do the same with DDS.
"Last April, we looked like a lot of other DSPs," said Tim Ogilvie, who was previously CEO of AdBuyer and is now MediaBank's SVP of products. "And though we haven't changed a lot -- the AdBuyer brand will still remain, for one thing -- we're a lot more than just a DSP right now."
In a larger online ad sense, AdBuyer's evolution will largely be emulated by other DSPs over the course of the next few years, especially as audience buying expands to include other media, like TV.
"Every Tom, Dick and Harry can call themselves a DSP today," Ed Montes, CEO of Adnetik, which powers Havas MPG's agency trading desk. "A few years ago, a DSP was a hard technology to build. But now, there’s open source DSP tools you can use. So it's no surprise that MediaBank is doing this with AdBuyer. The one question I have is, since it's designed to plug in with the trading desk and other third parties, can it eliminate discrepancies? It's not the sexiest question, but it's one of the most important issues facing media buyers."
MediaBanks says that addressing discrepancies in media buys is part of the service offering. As Mediapost's Mandese notes, the combined MediaBank/DDS company-to-be, MediaOcean, wants to create a "universal platform" for agencies that will attempt to address all the friction involved in the buying process. Whether it can do that remains to be seen, but with media buying starting to finally move into the 21st century, the new AdBuyer white label project appears to at least reflect those efforts.
By David Kaplan
January 3, 2012 – 7:26 pm