MAP Swoops Down On Hawk, Emerges As No. 2 Media Auditor

Just as the burgeoning field of media auditing begins to really take off, it's experiencing its first significant round of consolidation. Media Analysis Plus, a well-regarded auditing group founded just three years ago by renowned media planning expert Jim Surmanek, has acquired San Francisco-based Hawk Media, which many consider the pioneer of the practice in the United States.

Terms of the deal, including its scale or its impact on market shares of the media auditing industry, were not disclosed, but MAP's Surmanek estimated the deal makes MAP the No. 2 player in the field, just behind St. Louis-based Media Management Inc., but he said that was only a guess, noting that it is difficult to calculate he size and scope of the media auditing industry.

"We only know about the clients that we and Hawk represent. We have no clue what other people are doing, but we estimate that right now, media auditing represents between 2 percent and 6 percent of electronic media billings in the U.S," said Surmanek, adding, however, that it is growing rapidly, because of an acute focus on media delivery and results by marketing and corporate procurement departments.



Surmanek notes that media auditing already represents about two-thirds of electronic media billings in the U.K. and that one of its biggest players, Billetts, has moved into the U.S. marketplace. But Billetts is positioning itself as more of a "performance" review service for marketers, with less of a focus on the kind of compliance auditing conducted by MAP, Hawk and others in the nascent U.S. marketplace.

Billetts, and another strategic auditing service launched last year by former Interpublic media executive Mike Lotito, Media IQ, already claim to be auditing billions of dollars in network TV buys on behalf of a roster of blue chip advertisers.

Meanwhile, the Hawk acquisition gives MAP representation in four key markets: New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Denver, where its parent, Cable Audit Associates, is headquartered. CAA, the dominant player in the field of auditing cable TV systems, also has emerged as a powerful player in its own right, and with enough resources to take out a firm like Hawk, which was founded by Ken Slater in 1982.

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