NEC decouples DS management platform from Vukunet; does partnership with DOmedia

April 7, 2011 by Dave Haynes

NEC Display has gone a long way towards clarifying and advancing its Vukunet offer in the marketplace through a couple of announcements.

The free VUKUNET CMS, or content management system, is now the NEC CMS. It still works with the VUKUNET platform, but it’s not part of the Vukunet family.

It will now be called NEC CMS.

There’s also word this morning that NEC and Columbus, Ohio-based DOmedia have done a non-exclusive partnership deal that creates an end-to-end solution for buying and selling Digital OOH advertising.

The deal positions the DOmedia platform as being “Powered by VUKUNET” – with the DOmedia agency-facing buying platform on the front end and NEC’s network owner-centric solution on the back-end.

The solution, says the release, incorporates DOmedia’s web-based, front-end media search, planning and buying tools with NEC’s back-end VUKUNET technology, which provides comprehensive ad inventory management, ad campaign placement, tracking, measurement and reporting capabilities to display to media buyers.  The combined solution is aimed at resolving issues with technology fragmentation by creating a standards-based solution that will benefit the entire DOOH market.

“The partnership with DOmedia will be the industry standard that will generate incredible growth in the DOOH industry,” said Pierre Richer, President and COO, NEC Display Solutions. “While the market matures, an open end-to-end solution will create value for both buyers and sellers by lowering operating expenses, increasing transparency and creating innovation like we’ve seen in the online and mobile advertising industries.”

Among the benefits to media agencies and advertisers include an easier way to purchase and track DOOH media and a lower operational cost attributed to the buying process.  DOOH network operators will benefit from technology integration through inventory management, ad delivery, collaboration with agencies, and increased revenue potential.  VUKUNET’s unique approach allows the technology to work across many software platforms currently being used by network operators.

“One end-to-end solution from planning to execution for digital out of home advertising campaigns will enable advertising agencies to buy the medium on a larger scale more efficiently,” said John Muszynski, Chief Investment Officer, Starcom Mediavest Group. “This kind of technology innovation ultimately helps agencies effectively service clients and puts them at a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Rich Langdale, CEO of DOmedia, said:  “The DOOH industry has a need for technology to solve a lot of problems with inefficiencies and standardization, and we are taking a step in the right direction.  The open, end-to-end approach we are building with NEC will ultimately benefit both the media buyers and sellers.  Everybody wins.”

So … what’s all this really about?

For NEC, decoupling the CMS should at least start to ease the irritant out in the marketplace – among software vendors – that NEC was aggressively developing and marketing a genuinely free (and fairly well-rounded) solution for new networks in need of software. It was undoubtedly hard for the VUKUNET people to get partnerships together with software firms when the people on the other side of the table were fussed about selling against NEC’s free platform.

By making it an NEC Displays product, it for optics purposes doesn’t look a whole lot different from the free platform that Samsung offers. And a foil to MagicInfo was one of the biggest reasons why NEC went down this path to begin with.

Breaking it out from VUKUNET also removes about five minutes from the opening discussion about what VUKUNET is all about. I’ve spoken quite a bit with NEC about the massive challenge they faced trying to simplify what was a hugely confusing, many-headed offer when it came out. While it got better, my guess is that at DSE it probably still took many minutes to explain it all.

The elevator pitch needed a really, really tall building.

Then on the Digital OOH side, NEC faced the same confusion with network owners and media people – having to explain what all was part of it. It did not help that there was, at the start, a VUKUNET and an ADVUKU, which were different, but related, but not really … oh never mind.

NOW … VUKUNET is the fulfillment and management end of a chain that will mostly start, at least in this arrangement, with the media planning community logging into DOmedia’s database and planning tool. In over-simplified terms, the planning people would use DOmedia to search, sort and then massage a deal until it is to their liking in price and audience and timing, and then an insertion order would be passed through to VUKUNET, which takes it from there.

NEC’s VUKUNET team would do the actual push out to networks that use the VUKUNET player/widget/thingie on its media playback units, and would manage reporting affidavits and monitoring and so on. So DOmedia is selling while VUKUNET is ops – executing on the plan as ordered. Where necessary, NEC is also admin. The platform is integrated with an SAP system.

This is good for DOmedia because they are still a relatively small, boot-strapped start-up that few people had heard much about until they did a deal last year to be the Digital OOH planning tool for choice for Starcom MediaVest Group, one of the big four agency holding groups that dominate the global agency business. When planners work through the DOmedia platform, DOmedia gets a percentage of the buy cost — just a teeny percentile but like ticket agency fees, they  add up.

Through NEC, DOmedia has a multi-billion dollar friend, and newfound marketing muscle and ties to networks and vendors.

For VUKUNET, this gets its platform in the mix with a monster agency – somewhat removing the question about why and how a display company can be in the media business. By working with DOmedia they don’t have to worry about how they might get on the agency radar. They are.

The deal is not exclusive and the VUKUNET people are undoubtedly talking to other companies that have tentacles into the agency business. The obvious partnerships that could also bubble up would be with Adcentricity (VUKUNET lead Graeme Spicer came from Adcentricity) and SeeSaw Networks. Maybe rVue. Not so sure. Different model.

Very interesting all the way around. NEC needed to clarify its offer and this certainly helps.

The new partners will be talking this up next week at the OAAA convention in Miami Beach and at the MediaPost DOOH forum in New York.


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