NEW YORK Donovan Data Systems said it has re-signed MPG, a unit of Havas, and independents RJ Palmer and Rubin Postaer Associates to new long-term contracts for its ad-buying processing system.
Combined, the shops buy more than $4 billion in ads per year in the U.S., with MPG accounting for the largest single piece. Last year, it's U.S. billings totaled $3.5 billion, according to Adweek research.
Up for grabs is a significantly bigger piece of business: the estimated $20 billion in ad buys that flow through the Interpublic media shops including Initiative and Universal McCann. IPG media management arm Mediabrands is evaluating Donovan and a Chicago-based competitor, MediaBank. A decision is expected soon.
The three renewals and the Mediabrands review represent the latest developments in the escalating competition between Donovan, which has provided transactional processing services for most of the major holding company media shops for the last decade, and upstart MediaBank, the three-year old firm that is trying to challenge Donovan's dominance.
Late last year, MediaBank signed its first big client, poaching longtime Donovan client Publicis' Starcom MediaVest Group, with over $20 billion in transactions. The split between Donovan and SMG was acrimonious, with charges and counter-charges of breach of contract and theft of trade secrets that ended up in an arbitration proceeding that is still ongoing, sources said.
MPG declined to comment on its re-upping with Donovan. Peter Stieglitz, chief financial officer, RJ Palmer, said, "As our agency embraces the digital age, we wanted a system that will support us in continuing to offer our clients a first-class service. We did investigate several other offerings in the marketplace. However, in addition to the technology, DDS offers added value in the form of reliability and services, which led us to renew."
Vince Mancuso, chief financial officer, RPA, said, "After reviewing a number of competitive systems, we found that [Donovan] provides the most comprehensive package of services for our multi-discipline business needs."