Online Shop Media Contacts Swallows TV/Radio Buyer MPG Direct

The media shop Media Contacts, a division of the Havas-owned Media Planning Group, announced last week that it is absorbing a sibling, the direct response group MPG Direct. Media Contacts focused on purchasing inventory on the Internet, while MPG Direct mostly bought direct response ads on television and radio. Both functions will now be combined in Media Contacts, said Global CEO Don Epperson.

The groups are merging, he said, largely because consumer reaction can easily be measured with both direct response broadcast and online ads--generally by keeping track of phone calls to call centers or visits to Web sites. "We're bringing those data streams closer together so we can analyze clients' data streams more holistically," said Louis Jones, executive vice president, managing director for Media Contacts, USA.

The move came about after the company's recent win of media buying duties for Vonage, an Edison, NJ-based company that provides Voice over Internet Protocol telephone service. For clients such as Vonage, who do both Internet and direct broadcast ads, "it's much more useful for them to have things within one organization," said Epperson.

Other clients include ING Direct, Fidelity, Choice Hotels, and Barclays Global Investors. Media Contacts' three branches in the United States--in Boston, New York, and San Francisco--are in the process of absorbing MPG Direct. The overseas offices are expected to merge by January 2005.

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