Vancouver begins test to buy broadcast electronically

The Vancouver Media Directors' Council (VMDC) has its electronic data interchange (EDI) test project in place and will begin handling broadcast buying electronically at the beginning of the new year.

The Vancouver Media Directors’ Council (VMDC) has its electronic data interchange (EDI) test project in place and will begin handling broadcast buying electronically at the beginning of the new year.

Rick Sanderson, media director, for Bryant Fulton & Shee in Vancouver, says the EwindEDI software system being used for the test enables the entire process – from original negotiation to the sending and paying of invoices – to be done via computer.

The software, from Warren Lamb & Associates of Poughquag, N.Y., is already used in Australia and by the cable television industry in the U.S.

‘So far, so good,’ says Sanderson. ‘[The software] is fairly straightforward. It’s almost like a patch that just allows slightly different systems to talk to each other. It isn’t really adding anything to the process or changing the way we do anything – it’s just translating from one system to the next.

‘What it allows us to do is get rid of some of the paper [process]. We still have to go head-to-head with reps to get the rates down to where we think they should be.’

Because broadcast is the most paper-intensive medium to buy, the VMDC wants to get television and then radio buying underway electronically before moving into print and outdoor media.

The companies taking part in this first stage of the test are Bryant Fulton & Shee, which uses the Adtraq software system to plan and schedule media buys; Palmer Jarvis DDB, using Donovan Data Systems’ software; and CHUM’s new Victoria Island television station CIVI.

Sanderson says he hopes any bugs in the system will be worked out by the end of January and that other agencies and media suppliers will begin joining in at that time.

CHUM is expected to bring its new Vancouver station CKVU (formerly owned by CanWest Global) into the project as soon as it’s been fully converted to the CHUM format.

EDI has an approximate one-time cost of $2,500 and while agencies benefit by saving time and money and eliminating the drudgery of paperwork, Sanderson says it’s also in the broadcasters’ best interests to adopt the technology.

‘We’re asking them to spend a little bit of money – and it is a very small entry cost – to make their systems compatible with ours so we can save a lot of time and money on doing this mindless detail stuff. Some are asking, ‘what’s in it for us?’ Down the road, it will mean faster payment, and I think that’s something important to them.’