ADOTAS – Donovan Data Systems (DDS) and MediaBank announced today the U.S. Department of Justice had approved their merger, in which the two companies are rebranded as Mediaocean. And although mergers and acquisitions happen all the time, Mediaocean’s initial aim is the creation of Mediaocean OS, a universal operating system for the ad industry. “To date, we built products,” said Mediaocean CEO (previously MediaBank CEO) Bill Wise in a phone call this afternoon. “Tomorrow, we want to be a platform.” As an open platform with universal APIs, a wide range of advertising services will be able to plug in, building out on top of that initial platform that Wise described as “the plumbing,” which can “allow agencies to control their own destiny.” (For a deeper look at what this means, check out the article Chris O’Hara of TRAFFIQ contributed to Adotas back when the intention to merger was originally announced, back in September of 2011, or a video post on the Mediaocean site.)
Wise pointed to a proliferation of methods of measurement, ad networks, data providers and other niche technology services in explaining the importance of building out the means for them to somehow speak to each other. “There are these little mini-markets — like 30 of them, with five or six players in each,” he said. “It’s made the media buying process inefficient.” Media buyers, he said, “don’t want 400 publishers, let alone 400 ad tech companies.”
One might argue part of why the advertising landscape is so knotty has to do with the standard startup model — notice a problem, develop a smart solution, gain traction and eventually sell to someone bigger — in which close focus is necessary by design and long-view or macro thinking doesn’t necessarily have to be part of the plan. But whatever you make of that, it’s true DDS has existed for over 40 years, and as Wise pointed out, that gives Mediaocean the perspective of having a past and looking at, as he said, “the next 40 years. We’re a little bit older, and we’re patient.”
And Wise explained that from Mediaocean’s perspective, integrating the ad industry is going to be increasingly imperative in the future. “As cluttered as digital media is, we believe all media is going to be that way,” he said. “Arguably the biggest player in radio is Pandora,” while TV is going digital and print media are directing attention to tablets. This means, as he explained, a shift from futures to spot buying and a growing attention on audience-buying that will cut across all forms of media. “All of a sudden your dependence on systems… becomes essential,” to access data, improve workflow and so on, said Wise.
But in order to build a platform like this will take a lot of resources. The MediaBank/DDS merger together gives the two former rivals the means to get started. “The initial plan,” said Wise, is to “invest a hell of a lot more money into working on this together.” In terms of the scale of the project, others have pointed out it amounts to a data play against Google — a company that Wise cited as an example of a media source Mediaocean might invite to plug into the platform at some hypothetical point when broadening its functionality might be a good idea.