Spot Runner Takes a Stab at Streamlining Media Buying


Their arguments are similar: there's too much inefficiency and too little technology in the system of matching buyers and sellers. This is exacerbated, Grouf argued, in a complex media world where the number of TV networks has gone from 11 in 1980 to more than 125. What's more, Internet video is opening additional options while adding to the glut of inventory available. In an economic recession, there is impetus to change, he said. "When things aren't broke, you don't fix them," he said. "The world we're in today is a very different world."

There are parallels of other industries, like financial services, that have relied on antiquated means while arguing about the primacy of relationships in what they do, only to adopt technology to drive efficiencies. "It's pretty clear that marketplace dynamics will absolutely come to the media industry. The intensity is debatable and probably varies by medium," said Tim Hanlon, managing director at VivaKi, the Publicis Groupe digital unit.

The big challenge for Spot Runner, like Google and others, is assuring both media owners and buyers their interests will be protected. The biggest fear of technology platforms: they'll commoditize inventory, treating programming as equal so long as the data shows there's a particular audience there. On the agency side, the systems must prove to be an advantage for large advertisers and brand campaigns, not only smaller advertisers and direct response.

"When you take major packaged-goods advertisers that spend a ton of money, we have to figure if using this is even possible," said Donna Speciale, president of investment and activation at Publicis Groupe's MediaVest. "This might be one way to purchase some type of inventory. It may not be a way to purchase all of the inventory in all campaigns."