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April 16, 2009

IT project spawns new WPP online business

Media giant spins out online ad service

By CBR Staff Writer

A proposal borne out of an internal IT project has led to a new business model and an early-stage spin-out from the advertising, marketing and communication services group of WPP., now a startup business launched out of the Kinetic arm of the media and advertising giant, is a new online service helping businesses in the UK buy and manage their outdoor advertising campaigns from the web. 

The startup has melded together an online directory of poster sites, from phone boxes to roadside billboards supplied by the UK’s outdoor media owners, with some web-based ad creation tools. 

“We didn’t want to replicate existing business models but wanted to look at ways we could exploit the Long Tail,” Rob Brayshaw, CIO of told us. 

The Long Tail is a consumer demographic in business, that is used to describe the niche strategy of businesses that sell a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities. believes it has a strong business case. It is estimated that $4 billion is spent on advertising, yet there is no outlet for small, local businesses. WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell said he believes the Signposter scheme “has the potential to transform local advertising for many UK businesses.”

Brayshaw explained that after a proof of concept and a soft launch, the online service is in shape and open for business.

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The national launch follows successful pilots conducted in Birmingham, Newcastle and Portsmouth. To date, more than 1,500 businesses from different sectors have registered on and booked over 500 sites.

The objective driving the site is to develop an Expedia of the advertising world, without building the burden of a large internal IT resource here in the UK or in any other region the business might expand into.

“I wanted right away to be able to draw on all the resources of a global delivery model,” Brayshaw explained.

“I have used an offshore team managed by Infosys as a core around which I have built the primary development. I don’t see any need to bring development inhouse as the business grows, as it allows us to be very agile.”

The ability to scale up and down as the demands of the business dictate is something Brayshaw sees as vital. The business can piggyback on the infrastructure of its parent initially, but sees long-term appeal in managed services.


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