Interep Snaps Up Winstar Interactive Media

Months after broadband firm Winstar Communications declared bankruptcy, its ad representation unit Winstar Interactive Media has a found buyer in Interep, a major player from the traditional side of media sales.

Once the acquisition closes next month, the unit will become a subsidiary of the online division of Interep National Radio Sales, which operates sales units for Disney-owned ABC Radio, Viacom-owned Infinity Broadcasting, and others — serving in all more than 2,000 stations nationwide.

On the Internet side, Interep’s Interactive unit already has a controlling interest in Web ad sales firms Cyberreps and Perfect Circle Media, as well as a stake in ad network BURST!.

But WIM, which represents sites associated with offline or well-known brands — similarly to now-defunct Alley ad rep firm Phase2Media — will remain independent of these others, while still becoming a unit of Interep Interactive.

WIM president John Durham said he saw “tremendous opportunity to coordinate sponsorship opportunities, promotions and sales packages with Interep Interactive’s other online sales groups.”

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

The news is promising for both WIM and cash-strapped parent Winstar Communications. In April, Winstar Communications filed for Chapter 11 and began squabbling with creditors over debts, eventually filing a $10 billion suit against one of those, Lucent Technologies.

Those developments had thrown into question the future of Winstar’s highly regarded Web ad rep unit — which handles clients including Fodors, Kiplinger and Entrepreneur.com. But WIM now appears to be on surer footing, with Interep having designated it create mixed-media ad deals, rolling its online inventory into sales packages with Interep’s radio spots.

“The team at Winstar Interactive Media has built a solid reputation throughout the industry for effectively representing a select portfolio of Web properties with strong brand recognition and significant traffic,” said Adam Guild, chief executive and president of Interep Interactive. “As we move into an era of cross media selling, WIM’s roster of quality Web properties and on-line marketing expertise offer the perfect complement to Interep’s strong radio focus. Together, we can lead the industry in the convergence of media sales.”

Aside from Durham, who also held the post of senior vice president at Winstar Communications, vice presidents of sales David Baird and Tim Moynihan will remain at WIM as Interep employees. WIM also will retain its current staff and offices in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Austin, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago.

“Winstar Interactive Media will be able to enhance its value to marketers by tapping into established Interep programs, such as joint sales with radio stations, sweepstakes, billboards, and sponsored messages delivered via email to handheld devices and cell phones,” Durham said.

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