BuyMedia.com's online broadcast buying service is ready for prime time. Today the Burlingame, Calif., company claims to be the first out of the gate to allow buyers to purchase first-choice TV and radio advertising online.
The system lets media buyers automate buying and selling spot ads. Since 1996, about 50 shops have beta-tested the system as the company continued to add functionality. "We believe we've now perfected the system and launched a final product that has the capability of achieving the volume we expect to receive," said president and CEO Michael Jackson.
BuyMedia.com has re-written its system using Java technology, beefed up servers and added security, authenticated by VeriSign, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of encryption technology and security certification. A Web interface allows media buyers to search for television and radio stations that match their preferences, to create and distribute their avail requests, and to finalize the buys.
BuyMedia supports several of the most-used media software products, including Strata, SmartPlus and CoreMedia, and offers an electronic interchange system for sending data.
If BuyMedia.com claims to be the first, it certainly won't be the last. Nipping at its heels is San Francisco-based Adauction.com, which last week officially announced that it, too, would eventually launch a division to sell broadcast using its auction format; its president and CEO, Chris Redlitz, said he expects to have a complete offering by the end of the year. Steve Pechman will lead Adauction.com's broadcast sales effort as vice president and general manager, broadcast.
Participating TV and radio stations pay BuyMedia.com commissions on each order they receive; non-participating stations remain part of the system, however, so that buyers have access to the entire marketplace. (Buyers are incented to choose participating stations, tagged with a dollar sign, with a 2 percent rebate on buys through them.) The service boasts more than 1,700 participating radio stations and 200-plus TV stations. Buyers also receive a certificate for a bottle of wine from Virtual Vineyards for every order they make through the service.
One downside, per users: BuyMedia.com's application lets buyers include a preferred contact's name but not change the fax number. Broadcast media buyer Bridgette Zellmann of CSK Automotive in Phoenix, Ariz., has been a beta tester for two months, and said she might have thrown in the towel if it weren't for the free wine. "It's easy and it saves you a little time because you're not standing at the fax machine," Zellmann said, "but at the same time, I can't fax exactly where I want to."