MediaOcean Faces Threat From Across One, Mediabrands Taps Facilitate Digital For 'Digital Workflow'

Even as Madison Avenue's big "back-office" media buying and paying processors Donovan Data Systems and MediaBank were finalizing details of their surprising plans to merge into a new marketing dominating company called MediaOcean, a relatively unknown rival was quietly signing a deal to grab the digital front-end of one of their biggest clients, Interpublic's Mediabrands. That rival, Sydney, Australia-based Facilitate Digital Holdings, has signed an agreement to process all of the front-end digital workflow for all of Mediabrands' agencies -- including flagship media networks Initiative and UM, search and social unit Reprise Media, audience demand platform Cadreon, mobile shop Ansible, and hyper-local unit Geomentum -- on an exclusive basis globally, and in North America on a non-exclusive basis.

The deal is significant because it is the digital media processing that both Donovan and MediaBank have been fighting a bloody war over for the past several years, and is the part of the business they say is the logic behind their merger.

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The deal also comes as Mediabrands had been weaning itself off its previous provider Donovan, and was transitioning itself to MediaBank's systems, but Facilitate Digital has already begun transitioning Mediabrands to its systems in Europe, and will soon make the conversion in Asia-Pacific and in North America where Mediabrands' agencies opt to use it.

But the logic of the deal is based on it being worldwide, says Julian Baring, executive vice president for North America at Facilitate Digital, because digital media workflow and processing has essentially become a global issue for big agencies and their clients.

"The problem we saw for agencies is that they're servicing global clients with reporting requirements across multiple regions of the world, and those regions are working with non-standardized systems," Baring says, adding: "It's very hard for those agency networks to manage the client's requirements in a consistent manner."

Digital media, ironically, is especially vexing for agencies to manage, because many shops -- even some of the biggest - still process those buys via offline programs like Microsoft's Excel software, and then manually key the data into their ad server or media billing/payment systems, creating the highest level of discrepancy rates of any major medium.

Baring says the power of Facilitate Digital's system is that the workflow management, from the earliest stages of agency requests for proposals to final invoicing, happen 100% "in the cloud."

Because it operates a global, cloud-based infrastructure, Baring says it is easier for Facilitate Digital to harmonize and standardize the digital media buying process across regions of the world where practices and terminology may vary.

Both Donovan, with its iDesk platform, and MediaBank, with its MBX suite, have claimed to have made significant advances in managing the workflow of digital media buys, but neither of their organizations are truly global. Both companies are most dominant in North America, and Donovan has a major stronghold in the U.K. Ten-year-old Facilitate Digital began in Asia-Pacific and has migrated around the world.

Baring says another advantage of Facilitate Digital's system is that it integrates with all the other systems agencies use, whether they are third-party ad servers that they prefer to do business with, or other enterprise data processing firms that handle back-end functions, such as Donovan, MediaBank, Strata or Harris.

Baring says Facilitate Digital services all the "tier one" agencies in at least part of their digital workflow in some part of the world, and said that WPP's GroupM was its next biggest holding company client, managing GroupM digital buys in 17 markets outside the U.S., primarily in Asia-Pacific.

He says Facilitate Digital's system currently handles all of the major online media buying workflow, including display, video, social and search, and that it is integrating mobile now. Eventually, he said the system will incorporate other media that transition to digital workflow, including out-of-home and print.

1 comment about "MediaOcean Faces Threat From Across One, Mediabrands Taps Facilitate Digital For 'Digital Workflow'".
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  1. Henry Blaufox from Dragon360, September 29, 2011 at 4:22 p.m.

    Wasn't IPG in the middle of implementing this with MediaBank? WHy add to it or switch vendors now?

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