Elevator Pitch: Industry Biggies Back New Ad 'Talent Platform'

It has been said that in the advertising business, the “inventory goes down the elevator every night.” The problem with that quote, which is usually attributed to legendary ad man Fairfax Cone, is that sometimes it doesn’t come back up in the morning. To help the ad industry manage its core asset -- its talent pool -- and to utilize new technologies to do it better, some of Madison Avenue’s savviest investors are backing a new “talent management platform,” aptly named: Namely.

The platform, which is the brainchild of Matt Straz, a long-time digital and general media agency vet who most recently cashed in as part of the team that created and sold super-rich online media platform Pictela to AOL, and its angel funders read like a who’s who of the business, including personal investments by Medialink’s Wenda Harris Millard and Michael Kassan, Simulmedia’s Dave Morgan, Buddy Media’s Michael Lazerow, Admeld’s Michael Barrett, CIA Founder Chris Ingram, and former Aegis North America chief Sarah Fay.

Straz, a former WPP agency executive who also is a weekly contributor to MediaPost’s “Online Spin Board,” says he got the idea from working in the agency business over the years, and realized that the same power of digital media technology that could be applied to managing, serving and optimizing advertising could also be applied to managing the talent behind it.

The platform is a combination of databases and digital “optimization” systems that enable agencies, managers, and even client or account teams to easily track how talent is allocated across accounts and management teams, replacing old-fashioned spreadsheets, emails and paper files with dashboards and applications.

The company has been in quiet mode, but publicly announced its start-up plans and its backers this morning as part of a filing requirement with the Securities and Exchange Commission -- and Straz says he’s been in discussions with most of the big agency holding companies, which almost universally have agreed to work with Namely.

According to Namely’s Web site, it will provide them with “secure access to a company’s own data from anywhere in the world. Account team info, employee allocations and work history are available through the platform in seconds.” In other words, it will allow the world’s biggest advertising organizations to know precisely how much of their inventory is going down the elevator at night, and back up again in the morning.

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