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Adotas: Media-buying system rivals DDS and MediaBank shack up

September 26, 2011

ADOTAS – After so much barking and hissing, don’t they look cute together? Multichannel campaign management technology provider Donavan Data Systems has merged with startup rival MediaBank to form a new company called MediaOcean.

Together, the two companies will provide the media buying systems — which include integrations with data providers, exchanges, DSPs, etc — for all six of the major ad holding companies. More fascinating, technology is in the works for an integrated cross-channel buying system developed with a whole new paradigm. as well as a burgeoning media marketplace.

MediaBank invaded a space that DDS had long dominated, stealing the back-end media-buying business of Starcom MediaVest Group and Interpublic Group. DDS still had the other four major holding companies in its pocket, but MediaBank was certainly pushing the redline on the buzz meter, with venture capital rolling in and a charming, well-known face in the CEO’s office: former Yahoo! Right Media President Bill Wise.

Reportedly MediaBank’s media-buying back-end technology was not as thorough as DDS’ (SMG apparently had a lot of growing pains integrating MediaBank’s system), but it was sold at a lower pricepoint as the company was trying to push the other side of the business: a media marketplace, bolstered in the past year by the acquisition of DSP AdBuyer.

That company’s single platform for managing and optimizing search, display and retargeting campaigns was integrated into MediaBank’s buying system, offering agencies access to search and display exchanges as well as third-party audience targeting data from AdBuyer partners like BlueKai, eXelate and TargusInfo. Then in June, MediaBank partnered with TRA to enable clients to match TV planning data to purchase data.

TV has been heavy on Wise’s mind lately as he’s penned numerous bylines arguing that GRPs and other TV metrics aren’t keeping up with the times; however, his most salient point revolved around the amazing amount of data coming from the channel.

That hasn’t been lost on DDS either, which integrated Rentrak’s TV Essentials, StationView Essentials and OnDemand Essentials databases into its agency media buying tools back in February. Oh, don’t think DDS was sitting back on its haunches all this time — in particular, to dodge claims it was looking gray after more than four decades in the business, the company hired young buck J.T. Batson, a veteran of both supply side platform Rubicon Project (which integrated with DDS in February) and the marketing team of Mozilla.

Responding to complaints that DDS’s tools haven’t kept up with the rapidly evolving digital media world, the company launched a revamped iDesk in July. The digital media-buying system, which manages the complete campaign including billing and other financial tasks, was re-imagined with a whole new architecture by some “rock star user-experience folks.” It took three years to build the original iDesk but six months to redeisgn it with a slew of new technologies and a greater focus on user experience rather than just the user interface.

This included color-coded command functions, Facebook-style notifications and one-click execution from the main screen. Oh, and not to forget standard integration points for just about any third-party ad tech you could imagine. During a demo of the new system, Batson told me clients were simply “giddy” trying it out.

“It’s the most exciting thing done in this space in years,” he said. According to DDS, $6 billion dollars of digital media spend are currently flowing through iDesk.

In general, DDS has made major overhauls to its media-buying systems across channels — including making the cable television buying process far more efficient —  with the overarching goal of a unified operating system for purchasing media, regardless of the source. Batson spoke of a global operating system that could be plugged into anything; an open platform that handles all creative and media buying and is customized at an agency level.

“We want to change the current process from an application structure to an operating system model,” Batson said. “In addition to being a more efficient system, the cost structure would less expensive.”

Bold, certainly — and it will be curious to see what effect the merger with MediaBank (if it’s approved by regulatory forces — there’s a strong case to be made that the move is anti-competitive) will have on plans to launch this before the end of the year.

Interestingly, Wise has been named CEO of the new entity, MediaOcean, with DDS founder and chairman Michael Donovan serving as executive chairman. So no doubt the OS will be hooked into the Marketplace DSP — apparently MediaOcean believes it can have it all.

Via Adotas