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ePort Makes It Easier

For years, it was so easy. Television broadcasters only sold TV commercials. The largest debate between buyers and sellers was how to prorate the unit cost when the advertiser wanted to run a :10 or :15 message, rather than a :30.

When the Internet arose in the mid-1990s as a viable advertising platform, a few broadcasters immediately jumped on board. However, the logistics of the sale slowed the process. “What size banners can you run,” asked buyers. “How do I book this,” asked the puzzled station reps.

A hodgepodge of tactics was employed by buyers and sellers alike in an effort to execute the details of their negotiations. Over a 10-year span, the quantity and variety of these non-spot assets has grown. Today, it’s more than just Web banners—it’s streaming video, product placement deals and mobile phone sponsorships. There are microsites, public events, print collateral and video-on-demand partnerships.

Plus, a growing array of digital multicast channels has joined the list of assets that are being bought and sold on a regular basis. As budgets on both sides of the business have grown, the process has improved—but not as efficiently as is truly needed.

Enter ePort, the new eBusiness digital platform designed to enable open-standard electronic transactions for multiple media outlets between advertisers, ad agencies, broadcasters and station reps. Slated to debut in Q4 2007, this initiative is backed by the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) and funded by the National Association of Broadcasters.

I spoke with Paul Karpowicz, president of Meredith Broadcasting and chairman of the TVB Board. “Agencies were concerned about the difficulties they faced when buying these new media opportunities,” he explained. “The wide variety of fax forms, demand billing procedures and eventual discrepancies have hindered the sales process. With TVB ePort, buyers and sellers will have access to an open-standard system that’s been custom designed to make it easier to conduct business on a multi-platform level.”

As a sales manager responsible for a hefty chunk of digital-related revenue this year, I applaud this effort. The easier we can make it for buyers to purchase our new platforms, the better. Quick and easy access to systems that allow for the purchase of our new digital platforms can only help us provide greater results for advertisers, all while growing revenue in this key area.

Jeffrey Ulrich is the new business and convergence sales manager at WGCL in Atlanta, GA. His opinions do not necessarily reflect the position of Meredith Corporation. Contact him at HiDefJeff@gmail.com.