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Carat To Introduce Fortuna Optimizer For Spot Buys

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With Office Consolidation, the Plan Is to Double Shop's Capacity
NEW YORK--Recently arrived Carat North America chief executive David Verklin is reorganizing the agency's broadcast spot buying department and adding a potentially powerful new media tool to the agency's arsenal.
The changes include the implementation of Fortuna, proprietary optimizer software able to manipulate minute-by-minute audience rating data on a regular basis to track spot buys.
Spot buys at most agencies are based on Nielsen Media Research figures that measure audiences by 15-minute intervals. Although Nielsen does provide minute-interval data, it is expensive and difficult to manipulate. Nielsen in September plans to provide such data in a cheaper, more digestible form, but only agencies with additional software such as Fortuna will be able to use it. The main advantage: Fortuna can track audience changes within commercial breaks, not just within programs.
If Carat can get Fortuna online within 90 days, as planned, it would likely be among the first to use such data, sources said.
Media executives at other agencies said Carat may indeed have a powerful new weapon in pitches.
"Anything that gets us closer to real information about the consumer is good," said Paula Brooks, director of media services at Margeotes/Fertitta + Partners, New York. She warned, however, against emphasizing quantitative methods at the expense of qualitative means, such as creative planning and insight.
Verklin also plans to consolidate Carat's spot operations, reassigning most of Carat's 90 spot buyers (in 13 U.S. offices) to four or five regional "hubs" that report to Carat MBS, New York, and Carat ICG, Los Angeles.
Verklin hopes Fortuna and the consolidation will allow Carat to eventually double the buys it makes without adding staff. Carat claims almost $500 million in spot billings in North America, with about $1.2 billion in billings overall.
Verklin joined Carat in April from Hal Riney & Partners in San Francisco, where he was managing director.
"We already are one of the top spot TV and radio players," Verklin said, noting that the new initiatives will help supplement Carat's North American "media pipeline."