4A’s Tackles e-Buying

NEW YORK — Following the demise of the holding-company joint venture MediaPort, the American Association of Advertising Agencies is stepping up its efforts to get software vendors to agree to an industrywide protocol for electronic media buying.

“As important as it was for MediaPort to create data-transmission standards, it is important for media vendors to create the software [to implement them],” said 4A’s evp for member services Mike Donahue, who is heading up the initiative. “Otherwise, it won’t happen. We are urging each of our vendors to make this Job One.”

The 4A’s last week established an advisory committee to work with software providers and has created a Web site to house the database information it received from MediaPort (www.xmlformedia.org).

MediaPort was formed by Omnicom, Interpublic Group and WPP in June 2001. Their combined $45 million investment failed to produce a revenue-generating system, and when merger talks with Donovan Data Systems-one of three firms that will market the software-broke down last month, the holding companies pulled the plug.

“When [MediaPort] came to us, we said … the best thing would be for us to take over what you create because we will be perceived as an independent third party,” said Donahue.

“Tech vendors are always quick to say that something can’t be done, and we have to be clear about what needs to be accomplished,” said Mindshare’s Harold Geller, head of the 4A’s media technology committee.

“We’re highly involved and committed to developing the solutions,” countered Ken Breen, marketing director for Donovan. “But it can’t be done overnight.”