DoubleClick Unveils MediaVisor

DoubleClick on Monday formally unveiled its MediaVisor workflow management offering, designed to unify its research, planning and ad serving offerings for online advertisers.

The product, based on ASP technology acquired by New York-based DoubleClick last year, is aimed at serving as the central hub for advertiser and agency media planning and buying, campaign analysis, management, and reporting.

Doug Knopper, general manager and vice president of DoubleClick Advertiser Solutions, called the offering “the operating system for online advertising.”

“It’s the one central tool that the online media planner goes to — the one desktop application that they need,” he said.

The tool can access audience research from NetRatings’ @plan unit, comScore’s traffic measurement service, and DoubleClick’s own Site Directory, for use in selecting sites and planning the campaign. Eventually, Nielsen//NetRatings data will also be incorporated. The system also generates media plan documents — obviating the need for planners to manually create charts.

Meanwhile, automated buying systems distribute and track Requests for Proposals and Insertion Orders, thereby essentially eliminating the need for calls, faxes, and individualized e-mails. The system also tracks signoffs on media plans and documents like Media Authorization Forms, potentially decreasing the opportunity for errors.

For campaigns delivered by DoubleClick’s DART for Advertisers, MediaVisor also can automatically schedule the campaign and assist in trafficking (by automatically generating trafficking spreadsheets and creatives’ URLs) as well as track results. Linking with services like those of Poindexter Systems (a DoubleClick partner), MediaVisor also can administer campaign optimization.

DoubleClick said that future add-ons could let the product integrate with other agency tools. For instance, MediaVisor could share data with legacy accounting systems, or services like those offered by Donovan Data Systems.

The company also said the MediaVisor’s open architecture could be modified to work with other ad servers besides DART, although it currently has no concrete plans to do so.

DoubleClick said the product would improve online ad buying on many fronts — by providing a single, time-saving tool for campaign planning and management. For instance, MediaVisor will encourage the use of standardized planning and contractual documents, though its automatically generated plans and trafficking spreadsheets, RFPs, Terms & Conditions, IOs and MAFs.

But if the product works as is intended, MediaVisor may spark controversies.

For one thing, MediaVisor will promote standardized pricing, by sharing pricing information among buyers at the same agency. By decreasing the role of the long-routine selling process of calls, e-mails, lunches and faxes, the new product could hammer away at sites’ efforts to woo advertisers with unpublished, off-rate card prices.

But it’s exactly that routine of individualized contact that DoubleClick is seeking to reduce with the product, which will likely have the most impact on traditionalists in media buying.

While Knopper said MediaVisor “doesn’t totally eliminate the ability to do phone calls, and faxes if agencies and buyers really want to do that … our [MediaVisor] clients are saying ‘I can make that process much more efficient.”

In many cases, that increased efficiency could justify major changes in procedure, as agencies are looking to cut the number of man-hours devoted to online buys, which very rarely account for more than just a fraction of most agencies’ media billings.

Already, DoubleClick said some of its charter agencies — which include Arnold Worldwide, the Digital Edge, Harmonic, Digitas, Starcom IP and Rubin Postaer Interactive — are requesting that RFPs be submitted electronically through the system, rather than using the old channels.

In addition to encouraging a major procedural shift on the part of online media buyers, MediaVisor also puts DoubleClick in the position of administering agency- and industry-wide contractual standards. While the tool could cut down on errors from manual creation of such documents and increase efficiency through standardization, it also paves the way for MediaVisor-generated forms and spreadsheets to be regarded as the industry standard.

Also, one proposed addition to MediaVisor’s planning module would use data from DART to flag sites with what it determines is a high occurrence of impression-accounting discrepancies. If buyers were to use MediaVisor to automatically select and contract with publishers on the basis of of that information, some sites could be left out in the cold.

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