Local TV Hopes For Electronic Billing -- In One Of These Decades

It's amazing that in 2007 we are still talking about a proposed electronic system for advertisers to buy local and national spot TV.

Electronic systems have been a topic of discussion for at least two decades. In the past, the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) was a tad more passive, hoping that a third party would come along and offer a system for everyone -- stations, sales rep firms, and advertisers.

But all that requires money -- it's a multimillion-dollar venture -- and cooperation among all parties. Now the TVB is taking the bull by the horn, developing its own electronic system, TVB ePort, and hoping that the National Association of Broadcasters will help fund the venture.

It's always been said that local TV and national spots have been the real secrets of TV advertising -- the ability to target by station, by market, and by demo.

The question has been one of price; big spot buys are typically more costly than comparable network media buys. Not only that, but there can be constant post problems -- mistakes, schedules that don't run completely, and other issues. An electronic system should lower the cost and inefficiency.



Now with TV stations moving to build their Internet and digital multicast business, an electronic billing and buying system is needed more than ever.

It's a good time to do it. The local TV advertising market is feeling pretty good these days. Local TV advertising witnessed a record windfall of some $2 billion in political advertising in 2006. The TVB expects a wide-open presidential race will boost revenues later this year, leading into another hopefully big year in 2008.

It's doubtful the new system will help to even out  those big Olympic/political years with the non-Olympic/political years -- a difference that  tends to jerk TV revenues up and down every two years.

But if hundreds of millions of dollars are added to the coffers of TV stations with the new electronic system, it will be worth it -- once again.

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