WORD service targets media buyers

WORD, or Worldwide Online Rate and Data, launched in the UK last week, aiming to be the first comprehensive online planning resource for media buyers.

WORD, a partnership venture, was set up in January, 2000, with a team of 25 researchers compiling information from media owners around the world. The database collects together 90 percent of the world's major media properties that run banner and other advertising, sorting them into an easily searchable form.

Media buyers planning campaigns on behalf of their clients will be able to access the service using a password, and search for sites by demographics, country, market sector and language.

Michael Benson-Colpi and Paul Slight, who previously worked together as investment bankers in media mergers and acquisitions founded the service. The money made from their previous business has been ploughed into WORD along with support from "family and friends" . From launch, the site has cost £2.5 million (A$6.7 million).

Michael Benson-Colpi says, "It's such a simple idea, I'm amazed nobody's doing it already."

The site, wordonline.net, will generate revenue through subscriptions, which will cost around £2,500 per year. Benson-Colpi claims that it already has e-mails from 1,500 interested media buyers. He hopes that by the time of the worldwide roll-out, scheduled for May, there will be 15,000-20,000 media buyers wishing to sign up to the service.

Benson-Colpi insists that the global nature of the service will protect it from the advertising downturn. He says, "Bricks and mortar companies are increasing their online ad spending. It is only dotcoms that are slowing down. Worldwide spending is increasing, especially in the Asian markets."

The system has been beta tested by, among others, Zentropy Partners, whose head of media, Amanda Rohl says it is "unique" in the online ad industry "but to be effective long term, it needs the continued support of the listings and contacts it represents".

The idea behind WORD is not new. Doubleclick has a similar database that covers the networks it sells across. A spokesperson for Doubleclick says "There are a couple of companies in the US trying to do this. [The idea] is very critical to the media buying process -it makes it much more efficient."

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