Initiative Media Debuts Direct Response Media Holding Company

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Media planning and buying agency Initiative Media North America has debuted IMmediate IMpact, or IM2, a direct response media unit that is the new holding entity for company-owned shops IM Direct and Media Direct Partners Inc.

The new unit will use its influence in media buying to wrest better deals for clients. IM2 will account for 35 percent of all direct response TV buying in the United States, making it the leader in its category.

In a way, the unit owes its birth to the changing DRTV market.

"[The market is] in a state of turmoil and blurring right now," said Desiree DuMont, president and chief operating officer at IM2 and formerly founder and partner at Media Direct.

"The reason for that is a lot of advertisers are pushing their agencies to do a lot of direct response, and a lot of traditional agencies are saying, 'We're kind of doing that already,'" DuMont said. "So lines are being blurred about what direct response is."

The new shop will start with billings of $400 million from clients such as Glaxo Wellcome, Dell Computers, Bally's Health Clubs, BellSouth, Roche and the U.S. Navy. Many of these companies already are Initiative Media North America clients. Part of New York ad conglomerate Interpublic Group of Companies Inc., Initiative Media North America claims to be the nation's largest media buying agency.

"Automotive is an area we'd love to do more with, as well as travel-related and any emerging category," DuMont said. "What rises out of the dot-com tailspin is an area we should focus in because dot-com companies embrace the customer relationship/customer acquisition model."

IM2 will have 200 employees in seven offices, including the New York headquarters, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego, Salt Lake City and Atlanta.

The unit will offer DRTV media buying for short-form (30-, 60-, 90- and 120-second TV spots) and long-form (30-minute infomercials), plus print, interactive and direct mail. It also will provide telemarketing management, response and audience measurement tools, marketing consultation, media strategy and planning and database management.

DuMont said both IM Direct and Media Direct Partners, which will retain their independent status, have response analysis systems that help capture and analyze data points for stealth audience targeting.

"At the end of the day, we're going to merge the systems so that clients have even greater depth of reporting," DuMont said. "The better your response analysis, the better you can target your media and you can optimize your return on investment."

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