VivaKi Delays North American Consolidation

After a three-month consolidation review of the companies that process its $27 billion in annual ad billings in North America, VivaKi has opted not to consolidate after all.

At least for now. Instead, it has signed both contenders—Donovan Data Systems and MediaBank—to new one-year contracts to continue the same assignments covered under the previous agreements. DDS will continue to process the buys made by Zenith and Optimedia, while MediaBank will process transactions executed by Starcom and MediaVest.

Sources said VivaKi, the media management arm of the Publicis Groupe ad holding company, essentially punted on consolidation for a year and will continue to evaluate advances in the service capabilities of both vendors. It will then revisit the possibility of choosing a single vendor for the entire group. 

The North American review is just the first phase of a broader initiative being conducted by VivaKi to put in place a single system across its global footprint. Initially, the shop had hoped to get a single worldwide processing system in place by 2012, but the timing on that will be delayed now that North American consolidation has been put off for at least a year.

“It’s a huge undertaking and the details are complex,” said one source involved.

MediaBank and DDS have been locked in a fierce battle for business among the major holding companies for several years and the pressure has been immense on both to win the VivaKi account. Now, they’ll have another year to stew over the pending outcome.