Tom is currently the President of Orion Trading, the first and only fully global publicly owned barter company. Tom crossed over to barter after a 17-year stint at UM where he rose to EVP, Group Account Director and spent five years running the Verizon business, one of the top five leading global advertisers. The Makegood recently spoke with Telesco about Orion’s current and future success.
The Makegood: You recently crossed over from traditional advertising to barter at Orion Trading. What made you decide to make this switch at this time?
On behalf of a client I was working with while at UM, I got to know the people at Orion and I was very impressed with the work they delivered. At the time, Orion was just starting to expand around the globe, and so I decided that I wanted to be a part of building the company.
At Orion, I continue to help clients – in a way that is similar yet different from a traditional media agency. Philosophically, when I was on the media planning side, I saw us as an investment advisor for our client – and that is a pretty cool and awesome responsibility. From a barter perspective – it is pretty cut and dried in terms of the “help” you provide – you provide loss avoidance on assets and cash flow savings on their media plans. The simplicity of the deliverable to clients is attractive – little ambiguity, just saving money for your clients.
The Makegood: What does Orion Trading do for its clients that is different than traditional advertising, and how is this more beneficial?
We’re a media buying agency at the core – that’s what we do and we are good at it. The difference is that our clients part-fund that media with their assets, generating cash flow savings on media that is planned and priced by their lead agency. So for clients that have an asset challenge and who want to save money on their media buys – we are a smart solution. As an example – we recently purchased several large parcels of real estate from a significant advertiser who was having difficulty finding a buyer (largely due to the recent economic downturn – especially in real estate). That challenging property is now part-funding millions of dollars of advertising for our client.
The Makegood: What technology does the company use to work with clients and improve their advertising experience?
As I mentioned, we’re a media buying agency and as such we leverage the same types of smart technology that any good agency would on behalf of their clients. This technology allows us to carefully and relentlessly manage our clients’ media buys to ensure flawless delivery – and we are relentless. That’s why we have so many long-term clients, and it is why we continue to grow at a meteoric clip. It is also important to communicate with our clients and agency partners in a clear and immediate way – so beyond turnkey technology we are constantly creating more bespoke solutions so that we seamlessly blend in with what is often a large roster of client agencies.
The Makegood: How are clients subsidizing media budgets with Orion? What can a company add to its media plan in addition to the barter strategy?
They can do a lot with the money they save. Just a few examples – They are transferring trade credits across country borders to help generate savings in markets where it’s needed. Some have used the savings to fund incremental media types to their plans. And finally, some marketers are reinvesting the barter savings back into their media budget – generating more SOV for the same budget.
The Makegood: Do you see barter growing to be something more common in the future?
Frankly, it already is! I think folks would be amazed at how common it is for marketers to work with a barter shop. I cannot speak about Orion Trading’s competitors but I can tell you that Orion’s business has seen massive growth each and every year since our doors opened in 1996. Our US business continues to grow at a staggering rate and we continue to grow globally. Orion now has twelve offices in ten countries and we will add many more in the near future. Why? Because Orion is seen as a valued agency partner for blue chip clients around the world – they love what we do and they want us to do more of it – and that includes being where they are. In markets they need us. I guess that explains my frequent flyer mileage every year!
Thank you, Tom.