TvB Unveils Online Media Buying Standards

The Television Bu reau of Advertising last week unveiled technical standards for electronic media buying of local broadcast.

The effort, the latest step forward in a two-decade push to reform the cumbersome buying pro cess, aims to bring it entirely online, with all participants using the same procedure.

“This is truly an effort by everyone in the industry,” said Kathy Crawford, evp, director for local broad cast at Initiative Media North America. “It adds a level of accountability that will increase the efficiency of the whole operation.”

The goal of what TvB calls EDI, or electronic data interchange, is to eliminate mistakes and speed a pro cess that currently involves multiple written communications between broadcasters and media buyers—which leads to costly dis crepancies as much as 70 percent of the time, said Crawford.

“The standard agreed upon includes specific fields for required information for an order to be pro cessed: client, product, an estimate number, a start date, a program name, what are the standard dayparts and the standard length of commercials,” said Abby Auerbach, evp/ director of the EDI Committee, TvB.

Working with the TvB to develop the standards were media shops such as Horizon Media, software developers such as Encoda and Spheric, and Mediaport, the entity funded by WPP Group, Omnicom Group and Interpublic Group to develop new ways of using the Internet to improve buying.

TvB, which represents broadcast-station groups, ad-rep firms and 500 individual stations, also is sponsoring the testing and marketing of media buying software that uses the new standards. The vendor companies involved will meet with TvB officials on Sept. 10 to discuss a timetable for product testing.

“Once you build the standard [computer] language that can move data back and forth, you then have to write a translation layer between their system and the outside world,” said Mediaport CEO Mike Lotito. “It’s like designing a common language so that, as an analogy, someone writing an e-mail in German can be understood by someone who reads the e-mail in French.”