Valassis Buys Mediapassage Assets

It’s evidently not going to be the end of the road for Mediapassage, or at least not for some of its technology, now that marketing services giant Valassis has stepped in to acquire the defunct offline ad-buying ASP’s technology.

For an undisclosed amount, Livonia, Mich.-based Valassis will receive Mediapassage’s software, which will be merged into its existing software for online newspaper media planning and purchasing.

Thirty-year old Valassis, best known for its newspaper coupon inserts business, aims to create one of the industry’s largest newspaper ASP-based databases and planning services, offering tools for clients to plan, quote and place their newspaper media advertising.

The combined system, which will be sold as Valassis Media Passage, should include old Mediapassage planning functions such as demographic and geographic targeting, a complete, instantaneous quoting system, placement and back-end tracking tools.

“In today’s fast-paced media world, clients need the ability to act quickly when placing their advertising. They already know that there is no better company than Valassis from which to buy newspaper space, whether it’s inserts or ROP. Now, they can do it more efficiently than ever,” said Mary Ann Rivers, executive vice president of Valassis’ Targeted Print & Media Solutions unit. “We see this as a responsive action to meet the emerging need of our clients to place more last-minute business. They can get it fast, and trust the accuracy and knowledge that went into building our system.”

The purchase comes just weeks after Seattle-based Mediapassage shut its doors. The firm sought to become a clearinghouse for ad inventory, automating and simplifying the buying and selling of advertising using the Web. In March, it acquired rival OneMediaPlace, in a merger intended to combine OneMediaPlace’s front-end planning and purchasing functions — and strength in Web and outdoor media — with Mediapassage’s back-end systems for print and broadcast media. However, sources close to the firm say that excessive integration costs helped speed the merged company’s eventual ruin.

Meanwhile, the Mediapassage acquisition is the latest in Valassis’ efforts to move its offline couponing business online — efforts that hit a snag in August, when the company said it would no longer fund its Save.com subsidiary. Valassis also maintains investments in other online couponing and advertising players, such as Coupons.com and Independent Delivery Systems, an outsourcer of Web-based home grocery shopping.

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