Group M launches Midas Exchange for corporate barter


WPP announced the formation of a new corporate trading division to help clients secure media credits in exchange for underperforming assets. The new company, The Midas Exchange, will be powered by GroupM and was formed at the request of clients who asked that WPP/GroupM, enter the corporate trading arena to complement current services, seamlessly deliver a media plan consistent with objectives and be fully accountable for the total media product.

The new division will be headed by Kathy Kladopoulos, who has been named president. She was most recently EVP and managing director of Carat Trade, which she launched nine years ago.

Kladopoulos pointed out that many WPP clients already engage in corporate trading with independent companies, but prefer that transactions be implemented by the same media agency network that handles their traditional media responsibilities.

“Independent trade companies working outside a network don’t always work toward the common goal, which is to deliver an optimal media product and use corporate trade where it is most advantageous to the client,” Kladopoulos said. “The key to the process is to maintain the integrity of the media plan consistent with set objectives and use corporate trade where it can add value and efficiency. The integration of this service with the strategic media plan is critical to achieve success.”

The Midas Exchange will purchase under-performing assets from a client at up to full book value for “trade credits” or sometimes cash. These assets could include discontinued product lines, excess inventory, real estate, capital equipment, transportation vehicles and any other assets that the client cannot liquidate at book value. The client will then use the “trade credits” as a partial payment substitution to purchase media or other goods and services.

Also, because of its relationship with WPP, powered by GroupM, The Midas Exchange is in a unique position that will allow it to trade original television programming for advertising inventory, a significant difference from traditional corporate trading operations.

“We plan to work directly with WPP through GroupM Entertainment to produce and/or license TV programming to television networks in exchange for inventory access to be used by The Midas Exchange,” Kladopoulos said. “This will provide much greater access to key inventory on the most desirable TV networks, which generally are less inclined to participate in corporate trade deals.”

Kladopoulos also pointed out that while the new company will work for GroupM agency clients, it will remain an autonomous operation totally separate from the agencies and their buying teams. The execution of media activity funded by media credits will be managed directly by implementation personnel at The Midas Exchange and not through the traditional GroupM/agency trading groups who place traditional paid media.