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Surmanek Launches Media Consultancy

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Jim Surmanek, former managing director of CIA Medianetwork in Chicago and New York, has joined with cable TV auditing company Cable Audit Associates to launch me dia consultancy Media AnalysisPlus.

MAP is based in Denver, with a Chicago office opening in January. The company will specialize in third-party audits of marketers' media buys. It will also offer media training and strategic counsel, as well as conduct media-agency reviews.

Media audits evaluate campaigns to determine if spots ran when they were supposed to, were aired without technical difficulties and were bought at competitive rates. Third-party auditing is ubiquitous in Eur ope, where many cli ents don't have the infrastructure to manage buys across dif ferent countries and cultures.

"In the U.K., 70 percent of ad spending is audited," said Charles Courtier, CEO of The Media Edge. "A good auditing company can play a significant role in improving the working relationship be tween me dia agency and client."

In the U.S., however, there are only a handful of such auditing services, and only a miniscule amount of total spending is audited.

"The engagement of an auditing firm sends a message of distrust to the media planning and buying resource," said Cliff Scott, CEO of The Scott Group, an Agoura Hills, Calif.-based marketing consultancy. "And if an advertiser brings in an auditing service, the advertiser has to admit there may be a problem—that the company has not been getting full value for its expenditures."

But Surmanek, a 35-year media-agency veteran, believes "there was never a crying need for a third-party audit, but economic conditions, especially since Sept. 11, are forcing this kind of thing. [Marketers] cannot fully scrutinize the media return on investment they're getting."

Sixteen-year-old Cable Audit Asso ciates works with HBO, NBC, Fox and others. Bruce Lazarus, president and COO, said the company decided to team with Surmanek to launch MAP because "it's always been our intention to take our expertise outside of the cable box."