Ad space liquidator finds buyers online

Media buyers looking for last-minute space can now go online to track down a bargain.
Byloggingontowww.adbargains.com, you might find half a page for sale at the Halifax Daily News, or a 30-second TV slot to be off-loaded by CBA Television Corporation.
Toronto-based Adbargains, which was soft-launched on July 13, markets itself as a last-minute club for international advertising.

Media buyers looking for last-minute space can now go online to track down a bargain.

Byloggingontowww.adbargains.com, you might find half a page for sale at the Halifax Daily News, or a 30-second TV slot to be off-loaded by CBA Television Corporation.

Toronto-based Adbargains, which was soft-launched on July 13, markets itself as a last-minute club for international advertising. Anyone across the globe can buy or sell space for ads in any form of media, whether it be TV, billboard or space on the side of a hot-air balloon.

Sellers are able to generate revenue through off-loading excess or last-minute inventory via the Web site, while buyers benefit from advertising space that is easy to source and usually sold at a reduced price.

‘Billions of dollars’ worth of advertising space goes unsold around the world,’ says Jack Denneboom, the company’s founder and president. ‘We provide a very simple way for people to market that space.’

While he is unwilling to divulge the number of site users, Denneboom says that most of the media buying firms in Canada are already making use of the site to buy space.

‘As with any new offering, there are some people who get it right away, some who tell you it won’t work and others who take a few weeks to think about it,’ says Denneboom, adding the main reason people have given for a negative response has been a fear of tarnishing the perception of a brand by offering space at a discount. ‘I just remind them that even the most highly regarded brand offers reduced prices at some point in time,’ he says.

Ron Clark, senior VP of advertising for Southam Publications, says some of the group’s publications, including the Halifax Daily News, have already been making use of Adbargains .

‘Typically, when we are selling last-minute space we go into panic overdrive and contact a list of chains, which can often be an exercise in absolute frustration,’ he says. ‘This site exposes the space to a far greater circle of advertisers than we could normally reach. We will certainly be using it a lot more in the future.’

Southam Publications also owns the Montreal Gazette, the Ottawa Citizen and the Vancouver Sun, among others.

However, from a buyer’s perspective, Aileen Grant, VP group media director at Toronto-based OMD Canada, feels that the site would provide little benefit for buying out-of-home or magazine space.

‘This sort of thing would probably be successful in the U.S., but in Canada we don’t have the same number of media suppliers,’ she says. ‘If I need a bargain I only need to call two or three people and do my negotiating that way.

‘It is probably quicker than going through the process of signing up to a Web site.’

When a sale takes place, Adbargains handles the transaction between buyer and seller and takes a 25% cut on the price of each advertising slot, to be paid by the seller. No fee is paid unless the space is sold and the seller is free to amend the details at any time and to continue selling through traditional methods. Buyers can also use the site to request notification when a particular type of inventory or space in a particular location becomes available.

A poster campaign to advertise the new site was launched on transit shelters throughout Toronto late last month and is soon to be extended to national print advertising.

Denneboom admits that transit shelters were chosen as the initial focal point for the campaign because of a partnership which Adbargains has formed with national billboard, poster and transit shelter company Mediacom which offered space at a reduced rate. Another reason for selecting transit shelters was to target Toronto’s central areas, where a lot of agencies have their offices.

The tag line ‘Great Deals on Advertising’ is the focus of the posters.

Denneboom anticipates that a large number of other types of media suppliers will soon be coming on board to form partnerships with Adbargains, to help promote the brand.

‘It is in their interest to partner with us and help bring traffic to the site, because we’re selling their inventories,’ he says.

TV advertising will not be used initially, due to the high production costs, but Denneboom says this form of media is likely to be used in the future.

During the launch period, the site has been mainly limited to Canadian advertising, but in the future, Denneboom expects ad space from all over the world to be changing hands via the Adbargains site. Already, the Jerusalem Post in Israel has used the site to market space for print ads, and Denneboom hopes this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The company has yet to form plans for its own international advertising. At present, it is relying on word of mouth to create global awareness.

‘As cash flow increases we’ll start advertising very heavily to tie in with our international plans,’ he says. ‘Canada is just a dress rehearsal.’