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Mediapassage, OneMediaPlace to Merge

Two competitors in the crowded online media marketplace space Tuesday said they plan to ease consumer confusion and grab market share by a pooling of resources.

Executives from OneMediaPlace and Mediapassage.com said they anticipate their companies' merger to close in late February, with the result being a firm called OneMediaPassage.

Spokespeople from the companies waved away suggestions that the advertising slowdown across all media was a consideration in the consolidation. Instead, the two firms said they're looking to join complementary products, ease market confusion, and capture bigger a chunk of market share in the space.

The deal is being billed as a combination of different areas of expertise, and of different technologies. OneMediaPlace, which began as AdAuction.com, has been most successful at attracting Internet and outdoor advertising transactions, and company executives feel its front-end Web interface is one of its strengths. Mediapassage.com, on the other hand, has concentrated on print and radio, and the companies' feel its back-end systems are superior.

"Major buyers and sellers of advertising will appreciate the clarity this transaction provides by offering a superior solution in a very murky, crowded marketplace," said Mediapassage chairman and chief executive Gilbert Scherer. "By combining OneMediaPlace's media exchange and Web-based RFP technology with Mediapassage's proven transaction platform, we become far-and-away the industry leader."

OneMediaPlace president and CEO Jerry Machovina added that the merger with Mediapassage will unite the best of both companies' technologies and buyer/affiliate relationships.

"The merger will provide an opportunity for us to leverage Mediapassage's extensive broadcast and print relationships," Machovina said. "By combining the OneMediaPlace front-end solution with the Mediapassage back-end systems, the new company will provide customers with a complete product. We are excited to offer all customers access to both companies' technology."

The move comes as a crowded field of online media marketplaces coincides with an across-the-boards downturn in ad spending. Besides facing off with one another, Mediapassage and OneMediaPlace count AdOutlet.com and BuyMedia.com as competitors, because all four handle both on- and offline media. Other players, like imediabuy and AdFlight, also focus on online media, while eMadison concentrates on network television and cable spots.

Mediapassage.com brings to the table an affiliate base of more than 3,700 radio stations, syndicators, and networks and more than $35 million in radio inventory. Mediapassage's client roster includes McCann Erickson, Publicis, Y&R, Zenith Media, and others.

OneMediaPlace counts about 3,500 registered sellers and 14,000 registered buyers of online, outdoor, television, radio and print advertising.

Scherer will serve as chairman of the new company, and share co-CEO duties with Machovina. OneMediaPassage will be based out of Mediapassage's headquarters in Seattle, with additional offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

The announcement is the second major merger in recent Mediapassage history. The company began as Media Passage, handling planning, placement, tracking and payment for print advertising only. But in September, the company, sporting a ".com", expanded to TV and radio through the acquisition of broadcastspots.com.

New York-based OneMediaPlace recently announced a 30-percent workforce reduction that it attributed to cost-cutting measures, but spokespeople for the firm denied that Tuesday's merger announcement was attributable to the advertising world's current woes.

"While this current slowdown, as it were, kind of runs across all media, [the merger is] really not a step back," said OneMediaPlace vice president for corporate communications Patrick Paterson. "The year 2000 was a hu