We're Not Your Father's Rate & Data Service: A Conversation With SRDS' Heather Petaccio

Old school planners and buyers may remember SRDS as the thick media listings directories reps would schlepp to their offices as they made their founds, but the reality is it hasn't published a printed version in nearly a decade, and it's accelerating both its sources of data (including podcasts, CTV, and other new ad-supported media formats), as well as the software and interface designs agencies and clients use to access and apply it.

On the eve of this week's rollout of a new campaign management system, Planning & Buying Insider sat down with Heather Petaccio, CEO of Adwanted USA, the parent of SRDS, to talk about how it's leveraging a century of media rate cards data to play a more integral role in media planning and buying.

Planning & Buying Insider: When I started covering the ad business at Adweek in the early 1980s, we had all these hard copy volumes of SRDS on our book shelf for TV, print and other media, and there were even humongous directories for farm publications and agricultural media. There was an SRDS category just for farmers. Do you still publish that?

Heather Petaccio: Yes, we do. You know, the sales reps used to walk around with those gigantic books around New York City. But obviously, we’ve evolved. We stopped printing them around 2014 or 2015, but everything is still online, and we do still actually publish data on agricultural media and other B2B media. It’s a very large database with about 4,000 publications. Agricultural and farming are a big segment, but so is healthcare.

If people think there has been a reduction in the number of titles of publication in some media categories in recent years, B2B is not one of them. That’s a category that has actually stayed fairly constant.

PB&I: So you continue expanding your database, adding podcasts just the other week. What else is new?

Petaccio: Since SRDS was acquired by Adwanted Group, we’ve had a lot more opportunities to expand our brand, because we are not your old SRDS anymore. We are using SRDS to launch all these new products.

It’s kind of like our platform. You remember us. We’re the brand you’ve owned and loved for years for research to start your media planning, but there is so much else we can help you with to support the advertising industry. And that’s where the software launch comes in. We’re launching a campaign management tool called AdwOne. It was developed in France and is used by the holding companies there. We saw a need for it here in the U.S., so we’re bringing it here and working with [Comcast’s FreeWheel’s] Strata, which will be doing key components like reconciliation, billing and the invoicing, and we’re the campaign management of it.

SRDS is the front end. You will start your journey through SRDS and then it will filter into AdwO-one and we’re going to have a nice API connection, so there will be a lot of backend connections going on. People will go in and plan and then go in through Strata to finish their planning. And the reporting will be done through the AdwOne system.

P&BI: Can you break down what the software actually does? Is it campaign workflow, flow-charting, things like that?

Petaccio: Yes, it’s workflow, flowcharts, and really visual dashboards tracking the multimedia components of a campaign. It works across multiple channels, and it’s multi-currency, so if they are planning globally or in other markets agencies can tie that in specifically to report back in the local currency they are using.

P&BI: Is it akin to traditional media planning software from companies like Telmar, Lumina and things like that?

Petaccio: It’s similar, but different. We don’t provide the end-to-end solution, but we link in with companies like Strata to handle that. We’re not really going up against the Mediaoceans of the world right now. They’ve got their corner of the market, but we think there’s an opportunity to work with the smaller to mid-size and independent agencies, as well as advertiser-direct.

P&BI: Is there anything else differentiated about the software product itself, or is it just another alternative supplier?

Petaccio: It’s another alternative in the market, but the look and feel of it are different. The dashboard has a calendar in it, and there are features that are not available in some of the other systems that exist in the market today.

One of the main comments we’re getting from people that we’ve shown it to is that they love the look and feel of the dashboard.

P&BI: So you’ve always had data and now you have applications and software. Is the ambition to roll up into something bigger, some kind of enterprise system?

Petaccio: That’s the goal. We can integrate with any other system. We can connect with pretty much any API at this point.

3 comments about "We're Not Your Father's Rate & Data Service: A Conversation With SRDS' Heather Petaccio".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 19, 2023 at 9:36 a.m.

    Funny, but I was there and I never saw any sales reps lugging around  bulky copies of SRDS on their sales calls---or any other time either. As a matter of fact, SRDS became largely irrelevant for TV  and radio as soon as the sellers began to negotiate rates in the early- mid-1960s and the same thing happened to magazines in the 1980s when they abandoned their rate cards and caved in on CPMs, thinking that this made them more attractive in competition with TV. It didn't.

    As for AdwOne, I guess that's a start to help smaller agencies with systems for presenting certain kinds of data,  ad spend flow charts, etc. and I wish SRDS the best with this effort. However, if they really want to get in on media planning, what's needed is much more---like reach tables for CTV and the various complonents of TV "linear", AVOD, FASTS, plus combinations thereoff, as well as formats that allow planners to estimate the real reach of their ads---by inputing attentiveness factors---- or formulas that determine reach across platforms, etc. etc. Finally, planners need CPM and CPP modules for many types of media. We ( Media Dynamics Inc ) and others---Telmar, for example---supply such information to  subscribers so this is not a neglected field. But if SRDS really wants to go in big----beyond the mere  paperwork area---- there is probably room for more players.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, September 19, 2023 at 9:46 a.m.

    @Ed Papazian: SRDS must've gotten a rebound in relevancy at some point in the 1980s, because whenver I'd visit an agency media department back then, I'd ask to see their library and there were plenty of SRDS volumes on the shelves. I can't say exactly how planners and buyers used them, but they were among the most standardized reference books I could observe. We even had volumes in Adweek's library then.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 19, 2023 at 10:59 a.m.

    Joe, I'm sure that the agencies had the SRDS business press, newspaper and comsumer magazine editions in their libraries, but the TV and radio ones were obsolete long before the 1980s. And the only reason why the consumer magazine volumes were there was that they provided useful information about ad specs, names, addresses,  circulations and rate cards, though by then most planners and buyers were using Simmons or MRI audience data as their basic measurement tools and the rate cards had become only the starting point for  negotiations about what ad page was worth in each publication. It was for that reason that I included such information in the magazine section of the ad-supported  "Media Cost Guide"---which I distributed to all of the ad agencies between 1978 and 1985, along with independent estimates of the CPMs for national and local TV and  radio. Ken Fadner and his partners at "Ad Week" eventually bought "the Media Cost Guide" as well as a monthly magazine I created, called "Ad Forum" from my late partner, Bill Barlow and myself, and continued publishing it for a number of years.

Next story loading loading..