It agrees to provide initial funding of ePort, an electronic interface connecting stations, advertisers, reps and agencies. TVB President Chris Rohrs says the Web-based system will cost $5 million and be up and running by the fourth quarter of this year.
The NAB is throwing its support behind the Television Bureau of Advertising’s planned ePort computerized system for ordering, processing and invoicing spot TV buys.
The Web-based ePort system “will enable a new wave of open-standard electronic transactions among advertisers, agencies, broadcasters and station reps,” said TVB President Chris Rohrs at the formal unveiling of the multimillion dollar initiative at a press conference in New York today.
“To grow our core business, broadcasters have to make the [buying] process as easy as possible,” Rohrs said. “Looking beyond spot TV, new digital platforms will require an evolution to electronic business practices that are faster, smarter, more accountable and more efficient. The TVB ePort will enable that evolution.”
Rohrs stressed the ePort was not just about selling spot TV, but also about selling Web sites, digital multicast channels and mobile broadcasting. “Every broadcaster sees that as the place where growth has got to be,” he said.
The platform is expected to be operational in the fourth quarter.
The NAB board voted unanimously to supply seed money for the project last month after hearing a pitch from TVB President Chris Rohrs and Chairman Paul Karpowicz.
“It has the full support of broadcasters across the country,” Karpowicz told TVNewsCheck. “We know this is an expensive project, but it’s something broadcasters need to get behind.”
In a prepared statement, NAB President David Rehr said the association is “pleased to be a part of this effort to further strengthen the already strong bonds between local broadcasters and the advertising community.” Rehr did not attend the New York press conference.
Neither TVB nor NAB representatives would say how much NAB is providing in seed money.
Rohrs said it will cost about $5 million to get ePort up and running and $1 million a year to staff and operate it.
To cover the $5 million, Rohrs said, TVB will likely assess its members and ask other broadcasters for one-time contributions.
The operational and on-going capital expenses will come out of broadcasters’ user fees, he said. Those fees will be higher for those who don’t contribute to the startup fund, he added. “That’s only fair.”
The platform will be free to advertisers and their agencies, Rohrs added.
According to Rohrs, ePort will be built with the help of consultants, and staffed at first by TVB employees and based at TVB’s New York headquarters. Eventually, he said, ePort may be spun off with its own nonprofit charter, offices and staff.
Representatives of leading TV rep firms attended the press conference in a show of support, but were noncommittal about contributing to the effort. “At this point, we have had no conversations on funding,” said Katz Television President Jim Beloyianis.
For years TVB has been encouraging providers of trafficking and media buying software to develop an e-business system of their own, but has achieved only limited success. Buying spot, it believes, still involves too much paper, too many people, too much time.
By simplifying the buy, TVB is hoping that it will go a long way toward stemming the steady erosion of national spot advertising revenue over the years.