Varick Expands Trading Desk To Out-Of-Home Media, Cuts Geo-Targeted Deal For News Corp.'s 'The Daily'

MDC Partners' Varick Media Management, one of the first "agency trading desks," has diversified well past digital media, expanding its capabilities to include trading of out-of-home media, including static outdoor placements. While the first deal implemented by VMM's new out-of-home capability was a digital out-of-home buy for News Corp.'s The Daily, the MDC unit said it is capable of buying conventional outdoor media, including billboards, via the system.

"We are taking a first mover stance in other channels that wouldn't normally fall into the realm of an agency trading desk," explains Alexandra Galasso, the VMM account director who oversaw the out-of-home deal.

Galasso said the diversification is significant, because to date, most agency trading desks have focused only on trading online display and online video inventory they could procure through demand-side platforms, or DSPs, but the goal ultimately is to incorporate as many advertising channels as possible, including analogue ones that wouldn't necessarily be thought of as part of a digital trading system.

She says the VMM deal was enabled by a ADstruc, an online marketplace for outdoor advertising that she described as a "DSP" for out-of-home media. While the deals traded through ADstruc's system do not have the same cookie-level profile data that agency trading desks normally based their buys on, she says VMM and its client News Corp. gained other advantages via the deal, including reduced agency workflow for VMM and its sister agency Media Kitchen, and the ability to target the digital out-of-home campaign on a hyper-local basis so that the ad impressions ran only in the proximity of Apple stores selling iPads.

"Traditionally, the outdoor industry takes time to deliver the data and only provides PDF maps," says ADstruc CEO John Laramie, adding, "Our platform works for both agencies new to OOH but also those entrenched in the space. The majority of advertising mediums today are operating in some sort of exchange."

"We weren't optimizing it the way we would with an [online] display campaign on the basis of [cost-per-action], but it was another way for us to optimize the agency's workflow and to add a geo-targeting element," she says, adding that the VMM looked at incorporating other features into the buy, such as including RSS feeds of dynamic content related to the campaign, but ultimately opted not to. She said future campaigns traded via ADstruc conceivably could incorporate QR codes on static billboards, which would bring an interactive element to that analogue medium as well.

Galasso says VMM is working with DSPs to incorporate both mobile and social media campaigns into its trading systems, and is exploring ways of bringing addressable TV advertising on board, as well.

"VMM's goal is to have a holistic, multichannel approach," she says noting that while the data and executions may vary by medium, the goal is to have them "unified" via a single trading platform.

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