Outdoor Creates eBiz To Flex Online Muscle

Outdoor advertisers have enjoyed strong year-over-year growth. Now they want to strengthen their position with an online system for buying and selling inventory, says Stephen Freitas, chief marketing officer for the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA). The OAAA has partnered with Spot Buy Spot to create an XML schema that enables online trading between different types of software and proprietary systems.

The outdoor industry's eBiz plan is one of several initiatives to create an online infrastructure for media buying and planning. In "eBiz for Media," a project organized by the 4As, different industry organizations within the group are responsible for building their own eBiz platforms. All will be combined in a central site operated by the 4As.

When complete, the final eBiz for Media will allow 4A members to migrate activities such as invoicing and proof of performance entirely online, and provide audit trails for procurement evaluations.

"This is an attempt to get all media segments to interact electronically," Freitas said, explaining that each sector of the ad industry is handling its individual component. "Every media has a different way that it interacts with its consumers. The beauty of the XML schema is that it allows you to use your own software systems and then plug them all together." Freitas compared the XML technology to that used by Expedia and Travelocity, which allows trip data from many different airlines to be centralized and sorted in one place.



The OAAA effort to create an online platform for media trading comes alongside its announcement of 4.4 percent growth in May, compared with the same month last year. It also announced a total of 8 percent growth in the first five months of 2006, on a year-over-year basis. Because the industry's business cycle is closely linked to seasonal variations--with summer historically the most popular time of year--overall revenue for May was higher than previous months, although percentage growth was lower. "We're starting to see the full-year trend," Freitas said.

A second project to create an online media-trading platform is a partnership with eBay. That effort was recently undertaken by big agencies at the behest of major players, like Julie Roehm, senior vice president of marketing for Wal-Mart.

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