Virtual rep houses point media buyers online

More advertisers will be buying media online in the near future, if two fast-growing virtual rep houses have anything to say about it....

More advertisers will be buying media online in the near future, if two fast-growing virtual rep houses have anything to say about it.

Both of Toronto and of San Francisco, Calif. offer online listings of advertising space in a variety of media. Media planners and buyers can check out the avails, submit their plans in order to receive tailored proposals based on their strategies, and make purchases – all electronically., which launched quietly at the end of March, lists nearly a half-million dollars worth of properties in out-of-home, print, broadcast and online media. Suppliers include Telemedia Radio Network, the National Trivia Network and YTV’s Video & Arcade Top Ten. was established in 1997 under the name The company, which specializes primarily in out-of-home and online media, is now moving north of the border, although it has yet to introduce many Canadian listings.

Scott Neslund, managing director of Toronto-based Starcom Worldwide, says that services like these could ultimately play a significant role in the media buying landscape.

In the short-term, he predicts, media suppliers will use virtual rep houses mainly for surplus inventory, specials and one-time-only offerings. "But eventually, they’re going to want to test it on a broader scale."

Any system that allows for real-time electronic transactions is bound to create advantages for both buyers and sellers, says Neslund, who adds that the industry appears to be moving toward a blend of high-tech and traditional methods of doing business.

Lorraine Hughes, media director with Toronto-based TBWA Chiat/Day, agrees.

As electronic buying and selling evolves, she says, it should eliminate much of the paperwork that now bogs down buyers, speeding up the transaction process and giving advertisers a better shot at the properties they want.

Some media sales reps worry that electronic transactions may diminish their role, but Hughes doesn’t see that as a likelihood. There will still be many situations in which the negotiating skills of reps will be called upon, she says.

If anything, improved communications systems will render sales reps more effective, Hughes says. "The reps can spend more time being ambassadors for their stations and publications," she explains.

Mike Wixson, CEO of, says the company is working to set up a French-language version of the site, and to add Quebec media properties to its listings. The virtual rep house has also begun making forays into the U.S. market.

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.