Electronic data interchange becoming a reality

More than five years after they first began talking about Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Canadian media buyers and sellers can finally expect to become part of the electronic age later this year. Brian Pearman, president of Toronto-based Electronic Space & Time...

More than five years after they first began talking about Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Canadian media buyers and sellers can finally expect to become part of the electronic age later this year.

Brian Pearman, president of Toronto-based Electronic Space & Time and the man that’s shepherding the move toward EDI on behalf of a number of agencies and media suppliers, says all the difficult and time-consuming work has now been done, so once the project gets final industry approval, the system could be up and running as early as this summer.

Since leaving Genesis Media two years ago, Pearman has spent much of his time advocating industry standards for the electronic transmission of business documents that are needed to buy television, radio, newspaper, magazine and outdoor advertising. Eliminating much of the paperwork that buyers and sellers are now required to do, many in the media management industry believe, will result in huge cost savings.

The delivery of contracts, insertion orders and invoices will be handled through an Internet-based software system operated by a yet-to-be-determined third-party service bureau.

‘I’m telling everyone if they make a commitment, we could get all the documents flowing back and forth by the end of this year,’ says Pearman.

He says the EDI concept is easier to sell today than it was five years ago because everyone has had a chance to become more comfortable with electronic transactions of all kinds.

Sunni Boot, president of Optimedia Canada, is a strong supporter of the EDI project and believes it’s a necessity for the industry. With traditional paper-based systems, she says, discrepancies in the scheduling of television commercials could take up to 45 days to be discovered by the time a confirmation makes it back to the agency from the broadcaster. Such discrepancies, she adds, have invoicing implications for clients.

‘Our business is based on thousands of transactions in any given week or month and we’re the last industry left that isn’t electronically transferring this data,’ Boot says. ‘The data we get is subject to input errors – human errors – that I won’t say will be eliminated, but that will be vastly reduced by EDI.’

To date, the electronic transfer of information has primarily been restricted to invoices being distributed by such companies as Donovan Data Systems Canada (formerly Harris Donovan Systems Limited).

Wally Oakes, president of DDS Canada, says discrepancies in the paper-based system are causing a lot of media people, on both the buying and selling sides, to ignore the information they’re receiving.

‘I think people are drowning in paper.’

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group