Hyundai Launches Search for Media Auditing Shop

Hyundai Motor Co. is reviewing independent media auditing firms to oversee its combined $400 million Hyundai/Kia U.S. media buying business, handled by Aegis Group’s Carat Los Angeles, sources said.

The Korean automaker’s World Marketing Group, which oversees the performance of Carat, is managing the review. Fountain Valley, Calif.-based WMG was created in February and is run by former Hyundai marketing coordinator Kenny Han.

Contending are Hawk Media, San Francisco; Advan tage Media, Lakewood, Colo.; Media Management, St. Louis; and MediaAnalysis Plus, Denver, sources said. A decision is expected in June.

Hyundai representative Chris Hosford said, “Carat has said it can produce certain benefits over our previous media buying agency, and we want to monitor that to see if the benefits exist.”

Carat and the contenders were un available for comment.

When Carat won the business in January, it promised the client savings in ex cess of 10 percent more than what its former media shop, Bates, provided, sources said. The client plans to sign the winner to a one-year contract and will likely seek quarterly audits.

The audits will ensure that Carat makes good on its pricing guarantee and will examine audience delivery, as well as various expenses.

Clients regularly audit the buying of their media resources internally. Because WMG is still in the formative stages, Hyundai/Kia executives may feel they lack the internal capa bilities to do buying audits, sources said.

“U.S. media au diting companies have tried to expand their services, and offered to examine a client’s marketing plans and check the strategies,” said Charles Courtier, CEO of WPP Group’s Mediaedge:cia. He predicted that independent auditing in the U.S. will increase because “media buying has become so complicated, it really can’t be checked independently by most clients.”