Title:
Automated quote generation and advertising buy placements
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method can include transmitting buying criteria to a remote user, receiving buying criteria inputs corresponding to the transmitted buying criteria, and computing a quote of providing the advertising placements based on the buying criteria inputs. The buying criteria inputs can specify an advertiser request to buy advertising placements on at least two remotely located media outlets. The method can associate an identifier to the quote, transmit the quote, store the identifier and the quote in an enterprise database, determine at least one quote acceptance constraint based on predetermined criteria, receive an acceptance communication in response to the quote, approve the acceptance communication based on the at least one quote acceptance constraint, and transmit instructions of advertising placements to the associated at least one remotely located media outlet. The approval can be associated with at least one remotely located media outlet.



Inventors:
Lee, Jason N. (Orlando, FL, US)
Mccabe, Art L. (Almonte Springs, FL, US)
Benoit, Randall (Windermere, FL, US)
Ferry, Matthew M. (Lake Forest, CA, US)
Murray, David R. (Windermere, FL, US)
Application Number:
12/382636
Publication Date:
09/24/2009
Filing Date:
03/19/2009
Assignee:
Clear Channel Management Services, Inc.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
705/400
International Classes:
G06Q30/00; G06F17/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
SITTNER, MICHAEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Garlick & Markison (IH) (Austin, TX, US)
Claims:
1. A method comprising: transmitting buying criteria to a remote user, wherein an enterprise hub operatively coupled to a network transmits the buying criteria via the network; receiving buying criteria inputs corresponding to the transmitted buying criteria, wherein the buying criteria inputs specify an advertiser request to buy advertising placements on at least two remotely located media outlets; computing a quote of providing the advertising placements based on the buying criteria inputs; associating an identifier to the quote; transmitting the quote having an estimated cost associated with the buying criteria inputs; storing the identifier and the quote in an enterprise database operatively coupled to the enterprise hub; determining at least one quote acceptance constraint based on predetermined criteria; receiving an acceptance communication in response to the quote approving the acceptance communication based on the at least one quote acceptance constraint, the approval associated with at least one remotely located media outlet; and transmitting instructions of advertising placements to the associated at least one remotely located media outlet.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the buying criteria include market, media outlets, dates, days, daypart, advertisement length and demographic criteria.

3. The method of claim 1 further comprising filtering the buying criteria, wherein the displaying buying criteria displays the filtered buying criteria.

4. The method of claim 1 further comprising: determining if the acceptance communication has been received; if the acceptance communication is not yet received, determining if a price freeze period has expired; if the price freeze period has expired, repeat the computing a quote; and if the price freeze period has not expired, repeat the determining if the acceptance communication has been received.

5. The method of claim 4 wherein determining if the acceptance communication has been received comprises: receiving a communication; and determining whether the communication includes the identifier.

6. The method of claim 4 wherein repeating the computing a quote computes a new quote based on the buying criteria inputs and applicable business rules.

7. The method of claim 1 wherein the computing a quote comprises: determining a contract price for advertising placements; determining a percentage of advertising placements sold over advertising placements available; and modifying the contract price based on the determined percentage.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein the computing a quote utilizes a plurality of pricing modifications corresponding to percentage ranges and modifying the contract price comprises: determining which pricing modification of the plurality of pricing modifications the determined percentage corresponds to; and applying the determined pricing modification to the contract price.

9. The method of claim 7 further comprising selecting an advertising partner, wherein the determining a contract price determines the contract price based on the selected advertising partner.

10. A system comprising: a database operatively coupled to a network and a processor, the database adapted to store identifiers and quotes, a processor operatively coupled to a network and the database wherein the processor is adapted to: transmit buying criteria to a remote user; receive buying criteria inputs corresponding to the transmitted buying criteria, wherein the buying criteria inputs specify an advertiser request to buy advertising placements on at least two remotely located media outlets; compute a quote of providing the advertising placements based on the buying criteria inputs; associate an identifier to the quote; transmit a the quote having an estimated cost associated with the buying criteria inputs, store the identifier and the quote in the database; determine at least one quote acceptance constraint based on predetermined criteria; receive an acceptance communication in response to the quote approve the acceptance communication based on the at least one quote acceptance constraint, the approval associated with at least one remotely located media outlet; and transmit instructions of advertising placements to the associated at least one remotely located media outlet.

11. The system of claim 10 wherein the buying criteria include market, media outlets, dates, days, daypart, advertisement length and demographic criteria.

12. The system of claim 10 wherein the processor is further adapted to filter the buying criteria, wherein the computer is adapted to display the filtered buying criteria.

13. The system of claim 10 wherein the processor is further adapted to determine if the acceptance communication has been received; if the acceptance communication is not yet received, determine if a price freeze period has expired; if the price freeze period has expired, re-compute a quote; and if the price freeze period has not expired, re-determine if the acceptance communication has been received.

14. The system of claim 14 wherein the processor is further adapted to repeat the quote computation by computing a new quote based on the buying criteria inputs and applicable business rules.

15. The system of claim 14 wherein the processor is adapted to determine if the acceptance communication has been received by: receiving a communication; and determining whether the communication includes the identifier.

16. The system of claim 10 wherein the processor is adapted to compute a quote by: determining a contract price for advertising placements; determining a percentage of advertising placements sold over advertising placements available; and modifying the contract price based on the determined percentage.

17. The system of claim 16 wherein the processor utilizes a plurality of pricing modifications corresponding to percentage ranges and the processor is adapted to modify the contract price by: determining which pricing modification of the plurality of pricing modifications the determined percentage corresponds to; and applying the determined pricing modification to the contract price.

18. The system of claim 16 wherein the processor is further adapted to select an advertising partner, wherein the contract price determination determines the contract price based on the selected advertising partner.

19. A computer program product comprising: a computer usable medium having computer usable program code embodied therewith, the computer usable program code configured to: transmit buying criteria to a remote user; receive buying criteria inputs corresponding to the transmitted buying criteria, wherein the buying criteria inputs specify an advertiser request to buy advertising placements on at least two remotely located media outlets; compute a quote of providing the advertising placements based on the buying criteria inputs; associate an identifier to the quote; transmit a the quote having an estimated cost associated with the buying criteria inputs; store the identifier and the quote in a database; determine at least one quote acceptance constraint based on predetermined criteria; receive an acceptance communication in response to the quote; approve the acceptance communication based on the at least one quote acceptance constraint, the approval associated with at least one remotely located media outlet; and transmit instructions of advertising placements to the associated at least one remotely located media outlet.

20. The computer program product of claim 19 wherein the buying criteria include market, media outlets, dates, days, daypart, advertisement length and demographic criteria.

21. The computer program product of claim 19 wherein the computer program code is further configured to filter the buying criteria, wherein the computer is adapted to display the filtered buying criteria.

22. The computer program product of claim 19 wherein the computer program code is further configured to: determine if the acceptance communication has been received; if the acceptance communication is not yet received, determine if a price freeze period has expired; if the price freeze period has expired, re-compute the quote; and if the price freeze period has not expired, re-determine if the acceptance communication has been received.

23. The computer program product of claim 22 wherein the computer program code is further configured to re-compute the quote by computing a new quote based on the buying criteria inputs and applicable business rules.

24. The computer program product of claim 23 wherein the computer program code is configured to determine if the acceptance communication has been received by: receiving a communication; and determining whether the communication includes the identifier.

25. The computer program product of claim 19 wherein the computer program code is configured to compute a quote by: determining a contract price for advertising placements; determining a percentage of advertising placements sold over advertising placements available; and modifying the contract price based on the determined percentage.

26. The computer program product of claim 25 wherein the computer program code utilizes a plurality of pricing modifications corresponding to percentage ranges and the computer program code is configured to modify the contract price by: determining which pricing modification of the plurality of pricing modifications the determined percentage corresponds to; and applying the determined pricing modification to the contract price.

27. The computer program product of claim 25 wherein the computer program code is further configured to select an advertising partner, wherein the contract price determination determines the contract price based on the selected advertising partner.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the priority of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/064,665, entitled “System and Method for Integrated, Automated Inventory Management and Advertisement Delivery,” filed Mar. 19, 2008 and U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/193,218, entitled “System and Method for Integrated, Automated Inventory Management and Advertisement Delivery,” filed Nov. 6, 2008, both of which are incorporated by reference in their entirety. This application also incorporates by reference in their entirety U.S. application Ser. No. ______ entitled “Real-Time Insertion and Reporting of Media Content,” and U.S. application Ser. No. ______ entitled “Automated Content Delivery to Distributed Media Outlets,” both of which filed herewith Mar. 19, 2009.

TECHNOLOGICAL FIELD

The relevant technological field is media content scheduling and delivery.

BACKGROUND

Radio station systems for delivering advertising and other media content inventory are primarily disconnected and locally operated. Network originated programming and commercial advertising content is usually distributed manually and inefficiently to local media outlets. For example, local media outlets typically either receive a fax, e-mail, or manually visit a website to acquire instructions and content from a network or other media content provider. The visits are typically are repeated in a manually-intensive manner often on a daily basis. These repetitive manual processes are inefficient, require a trained staff and are error prone.

Arrangements that provide solutions to the described problems are less than perfect. The few systems that are integrated are connected only locally or in some cases regionally. None of these systems provide an enterprise-wide or nation-wide connection of distributed media outlets. Further, traditional systems offer little in the way of automation, extensibility and near time placement of advertising or other media content across multiple regions. Traditional systems do not enable media content providers to select available spots from nationally distributed media outlets, automatically upload and transmit content to distributed media outlets and receive an automated verification of the broadcast of the media content.

SUMMARY

In some embodiments a method is disclosed. The method can include transmitting buying criteria to a remote user, receiving buying criteria inputs corresponding to the transmitted buying criteria, and computing a quote of providing the advertising placements based on the buying criteria inputs. The buying criteria inputs can specify an advertiser request to buy advertising placements on at least two remotely located media outlets. The method can associate an identifier to the quote, transmit the quote having an estimated cost associated with the buying criteria inputs, and store the identifier and the quote in an enterprise database. The method can determine at least one quote acceptance constraint based on predetermined criteria, receive an acceptance communication in response to the quote, approve the acceptance communication based on the at least one quote acceptance constraint, and transmit instructions of advertising placements to the associated at least one remotely located media outlet. The approval can be associated with at least one remotely located media outlet.

In some embodiments a system is disclosed. The system can include a database operatively coupled to a network and a processor. The database can be adapted to store identifiers and quotes. The system can also include a processor operatively coupled to a network and the database. The processor can transmit buying criteria to a remote user, receive buying criteria inputs corresponding to the transmitted buying criteria, compute a quote of providing the advertising placements based on the buying criteria inputs, and associate an identifier to the quote. The buying criteria inputs can specify an advertiser request to buy advertising placements on at least two remotely located media outlets. The processor can transmit a the quote having an estimated cost associated with the buying criteria inputs, store the identifier and the quote in the database, determine at least one quote acceptance constraint based on predetermined criteria, receive an acceptance communication in response to the quote, approve the acceptance communication based on the at least one quote acceptance constraint, and transmit instructions of advertising placements to the associated at least one remotely located media outlet. The approval can be associated with at least one remotely located media outlet.

In yet another embodiment a computer readable medium is disclosed. The medium can be a computer program product embodied as computer usable program code. The computer usable program code can be configured to transmit buying criteria to a remote user, receive buying criteria inputs corresponding to the transmitted buying criteria, compute a quote of providing the advertising placements based on the buying criteria inputs, and associate an identifier to the quote. The buying criteria inputs can specify an advertiser request to buy advertising placements on at least two remotely located media outlets. The code can be configured to transmit a the quote having an estimated cost associated with the buying criteria inputs, store the identifier and the quote in a database, determine at least one quote acceptance constraint based on predetermined criteria, receive an acceptance communication in response to the quote, approve the acceptance communication based on the at least one quote acceptance constraint, and transmit instructions of advertising placements to the associated at least one remotely located media outlet. The approval can be associated with at least one remotely located media outlet.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The detailed description will refer to the following drawings, wherein like numerals refer to like elements, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of components that can facilitate automated quote generation and advertising buy placements.

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram for automated quote generation and advertising buy placements.

FIG. 3 is another flow diagram depicting a method for automated quote generation and advertising buy placements

FIG. 4 is a flow diagram illustrating yet another method for automated quote generation and advertising buy placements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The terminology utilized herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only and is not intended to be limiting of the claims. As used herein, the singular forms “a”, “an” and “the” are intended to include the plural forms as well, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. It will be further understood that the terms “comprises” and/or “comprising,” when used in this specification, specify the presence of stated features, integers, steps, operations, elements, and/or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, integers, steps, operations, elements, components, and/or groups thereof.

In some embodiments a method that transmits buying criteria to a remote user, receive buying criteria inputs corresponding to the transmitted buying criteria, and compute a quote of providing the advertising placements based on the buying criteria inputs is disclosed. The methods and systems herein can be referred to as an integrated media content distribution system. The buying criteria inputs can specify an advertiser request to buy advertising placements on at least two remotely located media outlets. The method can associate an identifier to the quote, transmit the quote having an estimated cost associated with the buying criteria inputs, and store the identifier and the quote in an enterprise database. The method can determine at least one quote acceptance constraint based on predetermined criteria, receive an acceptance communication in response to the quote, approve the acceptance communication based on the at least one quote acceptance constraint, and transmit instructions of advertising placements to the associated at least one remotely located media outlet. The approval can be associated with at least one remotely located media outlet.

The term broadcast as utilized herein should be given a broad and expansive meaning to include any form of transmission or distribution of content to the public. The term broadcast should also include without limitation transmission or distribution via terrestrial radio, satellite radio, Internet radio, television, satellite television, Internet transmissions and the like. Broadcasting as utilized herein also encompasses unicasting, multicasting, pod casting and all formats of Internet communications.

Referring to FIG. 1 a block diagram of an integrated media content distribution system 100 is depicted. The components of the system 100 can be utilized to facilitate performing the methods described herein. In some embodiments system 100 can enable the automated delivery of media content from media content providers to distributed media outlets who can broadcast the media content. Media content, as used herein, should be given its broadest meaning encompassing any form of media content that may be broadcast, including without limitation, advertising spots, including both audio and/or video advertising and audio and/or video programming, such as live and recorded talk shows, events, such as sports events, to name a few.

System 100 can include enterprise hub 112, enterprise hub database 114, one or more integrated services layers (ISLs) 116, distributed media outlets 118 and media content provider interface 120. Distributed media outlets 118, as used herein, can encompass local media outlets (e.g., local radio and television stations) that may be distributed in multiple markets, an entire market of local media outlets (e.g., all of the radio or television stations in a particular city), regional media outlets (e.g., regional radio and television stations), national media outlets, and media outlets that broadcast via the Internet or satellite, and combinations thereof. Distributed media outlets 118 may include transaction delivery systems such as traffic and billing systems 122 and media delivery systems 124. The transaction delivery systems may each serve single media outlets or multiple media outlets. Likewise, a media outlet may be served by multiple transaction delivery systems. For example, each local media outlet may have a transaction delivery system (i.e., traffic and billing system 122 and media delivery system 124), an entire market of local media outlets may share a transaction delivery system or other combinations of distributed media outlets may share a transaction delivery system. Likewise, a media outlet may be served by multiple transaction delivery systems.

Enterprise hub 112 can transmit and receive messages, instructions, media content, programming logs or any information that the public may be interested in. Enterprise hub 112 can communicate with media content provider interface 120 and, through ISLs 116, can communicate with distributed media outlets 118. Enterprise hub 112 can be an aggregation layer for ISLs 116 and for media content provider interface 120, thereby interconnecting media content providers with distributed media outlets 118. Enterprise hub 112 can include a web service with one or more servers that are connected to a network. The enterprise hub 112 can store instructions and programming code that is executed by one or more servers.

In some embodiments a processor, as part of the enterprise hub 112, can be adapted to request media content from a media provider via the network and can be adapted to receive the media content and instructions from the media content and in response to the instructions can broadcast the media content. The enterprise hub can also store the received media content in the database 114, process the instructions and distribute the media content and the instructions to distributed media outlets. In some embodiments that enterprise hub 112 can receive information indicating if the media content was broadcast by the distributed media outlets substantially in accordance with the instructions. In some embodiments, the processor can automatically distribute the media content in response to processing the instructions and the processor can instruct the distributed media outlets on the desired parameters for broadcasting the media content. Enterprise hub 112 may provide data, media and instruction to media content provider interface 120, possibly in the form of web sites or webpages, and such data can be accessed by media content providers, via media content provider workstations. Allowing such access allows for a user to make selections and input information to the system. Many different network components can be connected to enterprise hub 112 via the network. Network could be any kind of network such as a virtual private network, a local area network or a wide area network such as the Internet.

In some embodiments enterprise hub database 114 can store various information, as controlled by enterprise hub 112. For example, enterprise hub database 114 can store messages, instructions and media content received from media content providers (e.g., from media content provider interface 120) under the control of hub 112. Enterprise hub database 114 may store unique identifiers assigned to each media content provider. Therefore, each media content provider can have an ID, that is, a unique identifier that is assigned to a specific media outlet. The media outlet can be a station identifier (ID), and other unique identifiers can also be assigned to media content. One such identifier can be a Cart number or identifier. These unique identifiers may be generated by enterprise hub 112 or other components of system 100 or by a remote system not shown. Enterprise hub database 114 can also store configuration data for each media content provider interface. The configuration data can be generated by enterprise hub 112. Enterprise hub database 114 can be maintained by a server as part of the enterprise hub 112 or as a part of a separate database server.

Media content provider interface 120 can be an outward looking electronic interface to media content provider that can select media outlets and markets by submitting instructions for broadcasting of media content. Interface 120 can also provide media content, and can facilitate review and proofing of broadcast performance. Media content providers can include entities that provide media content. Such entities can include programming and advertising for broadcasting on media outlets 118. Media content providers may be entities that act as advertisers, advertising agencies, advertising brokers, or any one or entity that is in the business of advertising. Media content providers can be enterprise partners in a partnership agreement or can be other entities that sell advertising on a national or regional level where the advertisers desire to place advertising content on distributed media outlets, such as local or regional radio stations. In some embodiments, advertising time spots (avails) that are not sold nationally by media content providers can be marked as available to the local media outlet to sell to local advertisers. Media content providers may also be enterprise partners or other media companies that own media content, such as syndicated radio or television programs, and want to broadcast this media content via multiple distributed media outlets.

Media content providers may also be direct advertisers (e.g., Fortune 50 companies) that want to directly control, place and broadcast advertising with multiple distributed media outlets. Some embodiments of media content provider interface 120 may include a graphical user interface that presents information to media content provider users and allows the media content provider users to view, enter and select information, including instructions for broadcasting the media content. Media content provider interface 120 may also include an associated file transfer protocol (FTP) site that enables the transfer of files, including media content files and instructions, to enterprise hub 112. Enterprise hub 112 may automatically request and receive files from media content provider FTP site. The enterprise hub 12 can connect to media content provider interface 120 via the Internet.

Only one media content provider is illustrated however system 100 may include a plurality of media content provider interfaces 120. In some embodiments there could be many different media content providers, both internal and external to the enterprise system where the providers can access and utilize the features of the system 100 and the enterprise hub 112. Enterprise hub 112 may provide customized media content provider interfaces 120 for each different media content provider or it may provide a uniform media content provider interface 120 to one, all or many of the media content providers.

ISLs 116 can serve as multidirectional gateways to inject, extract, organize and route messages and media content between distributed media outlets 118 and enterprise hub 112. Various transactions or communications between system 100 components can be facilitated by ISLs 116. For example, communications regarding instructions, media content, scheduling logs, preemptions, schedule availability claims, and streams of information indicating what is currently being played on a distributed media outlet can all be facilitated by ISLs 116. Further communications regarding whether media content has been played as scheduled (e.g., “now playing” data), identifications of media outlets or stations, product codes, industry codes and status updates that are generated and sent by transaction delivery systems of distributed media outlets 118 can be communicated among ISLs 116 enterprise hub 112 and distributed media outlets 118.

In some embodiments messages in an extensible mark up language (XML) (always define acronyms) can be utilized in communications between ISLs 116 and enterprise hub 112. These XML messages can include a Cart number that identifies media content presented for broadcast. The XML messages can also include media content broadcast instruction messages that can be sent between ISLs 116 and distributed media outlets 118. In some embodiments, there may be one ISL 116 for each distributed media outlet 118. In other embodiments ISLs 116 can service multiple distributed media outlets 118 and there may be redundancy of ISLs 116 (multiple ISLs 116 serving same distributed media outlet 118). Such a configuration can provide redundancy, fail safe and backup features that can enhance system robustness. ISLs 116 may also be located at distributed media outlets 118. ISLs 116 may be incorporated into distributed media outlet 118 systems, such as transaction delivery systems.

Distributed media outlets 118 can be embodied as radio stations, television stations, an Internet server and any media outlet that can broadcast content. Distributed media outlets 118 may serve one or more local, national or regional markets. Distributed media outlets 118 can include transaction delivery systems that may include traffic and billing systems 122 and media (e.g., audio) delivery systems 124. Traffic and billing systems 122 may handle orders (e.g., instructions for broadcasting media content, such as advertising) and billing for fulfillment of such orders. Media delivery systems 124 may handle the playing of the media content.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a flowchart is provided that illustrates a method 200 for quote generation and advertising buy placements. In operation, system 100 can transmit buying criteria to media content provider. In embodiments, enterprise hub transmits buying criteria to media content provider interface, as illustrated by block 202. A user at a remote work station can access the media content provider interface and receive the transmitted buying criteria. Enterprise hub or media content provider interface can filter the buying criteria presented to media content provider interface using various filters, as illustrated by block 204. In some embodiments, media content provider can filter buying criteria based on market, media outlet, dates, daypart, advertisement or spot length, or demographic buying criteria, etc. Enterprise hub may provide the filtered buying criteria through media content provider interface. Media content provider may input buying criteria inputs that correspond to the provided buying criteria, as illustrated by block 206. Enterprise hub can receive the input buying criteria inputs. The inputs can specify an advertiser request to buy advertising placements on remotely located media outlets. In embodiments, the buying criteria can specify an advertiser request to buy advertising placements on a plurality of distributed media outlets (e.g., at least two remotely located media outlets).

The system 100 can compute a quote for the requested advertising placements based on the buying criteria inputs, as illustrated by block 208. The quote can include an estimated cost associated with the buying criteria inputs. In some embodiments, enterprise hub computes the value of the advertising placements and displays the quote. Computing a quote can include determining a contract price for advertising placements, determining a percentage of advertising placements sold over advertising placements available, and modifying the contract price based on the determined percentage. The computing a quote can utilize a plurality of pricing modifications corresponding to percentage ranges. Modifying a contract pricing can include determining which pricing modification of the plurality of pricing modifications the determined percentage corresponds to and applying the determined pricing modification to the contract price. The method 200 may also include selecting an advertising partner so that the method determines the contract price based on the selected advertising partner.

Enterprise hub or media content provider interface can determine whether to print the quote (e.g., because media content provider wants a printout of quote) and print the quote, as illustrated by blocks 210 and 212. Enterprise hub can determine whether to save the quote, as illustrated by block 214. For example, enterprise hub may discard the quote if media content provider rejects the quote, as illustrated by block 216. If discarded, the enterprise hub may save the discarded quote in the enterprise hub database for future reference, reporting, research and analysis. If the enterprise hub saves the quote, enterprise hub can generate a unique identifier, e.g., a coupon code, and save quote with unique identifier in enterprise hub database, as illustrated by block 218.

The enterprise hub or media content provider interface can apply business rules to determine whether to apply a price freeze, as illustrated by block 220. Applying the business rules may include determining at least one quote acceptance constraint based on predetermined criteria. If a price freeze period is applied and has not expired, as illustrated by block 222, method 200 can decrement a price freeze period expiration value, as illustrated by block 224. The enterprise hub can store the decremented value in the enterprise hub database. The method 200 can determine whether to execute the order, as illustrated by block 226. In some embodiments, this can include the enterprise hub receiving an acceptance communication in response to the quote. The enterprise hub can approve the acceptance communication based on the at least one quote acceptance constraint being satisfied. If acceptance is approved, the order is injected, as illustrated by block 228 and described herein. The approval associated with at least one remotely located media outlet. In some embodiments, media content provider interface determines if acceptance is approved and transmits media content corresponding to order to enterprise hub for insertion into distributed media outlet transaction delivery systems. The enterprise hub and the media content provider interface can transmit instructions of advertising placements to the associated at least one remotely located media outlet.

If an applied freeze period expires, the system 100 may reapply pricing and re-generate a quote, as illustrated by block 230. Re-computing a quote may compute a new quote based on the buying criteria inputs and applicable business rules. The method 200 can then repeat the above until an order (acceptance communication with quote acceptance constraints) is received.

FIG. 3 is a flowchart 300 illustrating automated quote generation and advertising buy placement features of some embodiments of system 100. Flowchart 300 illustrates automated pricing features that can be used by system 100 in automated quote generation. In some embodiments, a media content provider can be selected, as illustrated by block 302. The selection may be made by a system 100 user, such as a user of enterprise hub or media content provider interface. In some embodiments, media content providers may be assigned or contract for certain pricing structures. Rates for the selected media content provider may be entered, as illustrated by block 304. The rates may be entered by market, distributed media outlet, date, daypart, content length (e.g., advertising spot length), etc. In some embodiments, different rates may be entered for percentages of different advertising placements sold over advertising placements available. These rates may be assigned to different tiers. For example, fifty percent (50%) sold or less may be designated as tier one (1) and one set of rates applied to tier one, and so on. Alternatively, a standard contract price may be established for media content provider, and determined tier may cause a modification to the standard price to be applied. Enterprise hub can receive media content provider request for rates (e.g., a request for a quote) for certain input buying criteria (e.g., certain dates, market or media outlet), as illustrated by block 306. Enterprise hub may automatically access rates stored for the media content provider in, e.g., enterprise hub database.

In some embodiments, enterprise hub can determine which tier is applicable to the media content provider and media content provider requests for advertising placement. For example, if enterprise hub determines that the sellout rate (of advertising placements sold over advertising placements available) is less than or equal to 50%, as illustrated by block 308, then a first tier of rates (e.g., tier #1 of standard rate modification) may be applicable, as illustrated by block 310. Likewise, if the sellout rate is greater than 50% but less than or equal to 75%, as illustrated by block 312, then a second tier of rates (e.g., tier #2 of standard rate modification) may be applicable, as illustrated by block 314. If the sellout rate is greater than 75% but less than or equal to 95%, as illustrated by block 316, then a third tier of rates (e.g., tier #3 of standard rate modification) may be applicable, as illustrated by block 318. If greater than 95% sellout rate, a standard rate may apply for media content provider. Typically, sellout rate refers to the sellout rate for a distributed media outlet or a group of distributed media outlets.

The applicable rate may be returned to a user by being displayed by media content provider interface or an enterprise hub interface, as illustrated by block 320. Enterprise hub may calculate the quote for the media content provider requested advertising placement order based in part on the determined applicable tier, as illustrated by block 322. The calculated quote may be stored in a database, such as enterprise hub database, for later re-use. This quote may be used by the method 200 illustrated in FIG. 2.

Referring now to FIG. 4, a flow diagram illustrating an overview of operations of embodiments of system 100 is provided. Media content providers accessing system 100 at media content provider interfaces may seek to insert media content (e.g., advertising sports) into programming (e.g., radio programming) on various distributed media outlets utilizing embodiments of method 400 shown here. Preliminary or unperfected logs can be automatically and regularly transmitted from transaction delivery systems to the media content provider interface via enterprise hub, as illustrated by block 402, can inform media content provider of avails (i.e., spots of time available for an advertising spot or other programming) for various distributed media outlets. In other words, the unperfected logs can display dedicated avails inventory available on distributed media outlets of system 100. These logs may be sent from multiple transaction delivery systems on a per distributed media outlet (e.g., per radio station) basis.

An unperfected log can show aspects of a media outlet's schedule for a day. In some embodiments, an unperfected log can show a media content provider's contracted for avails in the media outlet's schedule and the surrounding programming, or context, for the media content provider's avails. A media content provider may contract for these avails, and may chose to use its contracted avails or not use them; the surrounding programming is reserved for the media outlet's use. An unperfected log can be called “preliminary” because the unperfected log has not been updated with a media content provider's avails claims; the unperfected log can be the log sent prior to the media content provider submitting its avails claims. In embodiments, media outlets may send their “final” unperfected log at midnight, twenty four hours before the day shown in the log (the “day of play”). Media content providers may know this is the final version of the unperfected log and that the media outlet may not subsequently change the unperfected log. Media outlets may send earlier versions of the unperfected log prior to this time, and media content providers may understand that these earlier versions may change. However, utilizing these earlier versions, media content providers to anticipate what the final unperfected log may be and make initial determinations of avails claims. In embodiments, the final unperfected log may be sent at midnight, twenty-four hours before the day of play, may remain unchanged from an earlier version. On a given night on which a media outlet transmits its final unperfected log at midnight for the day of play, the media outlet may also transmit any number of unperfected logs for subsequent days (e.g., radio station transmits at 12:00 AM Monday the final unperfected log for Tuesday, and unperfected logs for Wednesday-Friday). These other non-final unperfected logs may be changed any number of times before their “final” deadline or remain unchanged.

In embodiments, media outlets transaction delivery systems can generate and maintain logs, actual or local logs, representing the media outlet's schedule for each day. The unperfected logs transmitted to system 100, as discussed above, may be copies of the local logs. The unperfected logs transmitted to system 100 can be used by media content providers to claim avails and to insert the actual media content, as discussed herein. Avail claims can be communicated to the transaction delivery systems and inserted into the local logs. On the day of play, the local log may be the actual, planned schedule of advertising spots, or spot playlist, for the media outlet, including spots ordered and scheduled for media content providers, or others, and local market spots. This playlist may be merged with the other programming (e.g., songs, talk show, new, etc.) to form the media outlet playlist for the day.

With continued reference to FIG. 4, media content provider can use media content provider interface to view unperfected logs, listed avails and other log information. Media content provider may determine what avails to use based on this information and enter the selected or claimed avails into media content provider interface, as illustrated by block 404. Media content provider interface may transmit this information, the avails claims (e.g., the contractually-reserved spaces in the distributed media outlet schedule for which media content provider wishes to submit media content (e.g., an advertising spot)), to enterprise hub. In embodiments, the transmission of avails claims may occur sometime almost immediately after midnight, i.e., almost immediately after the final unperfected log is sent (e.g., for Tuesday day of play, final unperfected log is sent at 12:00 AM Monday morning and avails claims submitted by 12:05 AM Monday morning). For example, media content provider may enter and transmit an identifier for the avails it wishes to claim using media content provider interface. In an embodiment, media content provider can use the media content provider interface to edit the unperfected log, insert the media content provider's ID into the spots media content provider wishes to claim and transmit or upload the edited unperfected log.

In embodiments, enterprise hub can receive the avail claims (e.g., the uploaded log), as illustrated by 406, and can process the avail claims, as illustrated by block 408. When processing avail claims, enterprise hub may create a revised unperfected log for each distributed media outlet or market in which media content provider is submitting an avail claim. Enterprise hub can insert avail claims into the log for each distributed media outlet or market to create preliminary revised log. In other words, in place of avails shown in unperfected logs, enterprise hub can insert media outlet provider's claims. Enterprise hub may receive claims (e.g., uploaded logs) from multiple media content providers and may process all uploaded logs together to form one preliminary revised log for each distributed media outlet or market.

After processing, enterprise hub can distribute the avail claims to various ISLs for distributed media outlets in which media content provider has submitted an avail claim, as illustrated by block 410. The ISLs can receive the claims and inject the claims into actual or local logs of distributed media outlets media content delivery and traffic and billing systems, block 412. These transaction delivery systems can allocate local inventory into the actual logs, block 414, and receive the injected claims. These transaction delivery systems can update the local logs (e.g., the unperfected logs transmitted as described above) and transmit the updated logs to the media content provider interface via the enterprise hub. As noted above, these updated logs can bee sent from multiple distributed media outlet transaction delivery systems on a per media outlet (e.g., per radio station) basis. The updated logs may include a status of the claimed avails. Consequently, media content provider interfaces can receive the updated logs from multiple distributed media outlet to which they have sent avail claims.

Media content provider interfaces can insert media content (e.g., advertising spots) utilizing the updated logs, as illustrated by block 416. In other words, media content provider interfaces can transmit instructions for media content to enterprise hub for insertion into the local logs. This typically can occur around 9:00 PM the day prior to the airing of the media content. Enterprise hub can receive and process the insertion (i.e., the instructions), as illustrated by block 418 (see, e.g., FIG. 3). Enterprise hub can determine to which ISL(s) to transmit the instructions. ISL can receive and inject the insertion (i.e., the instructions) into the appropriate distributed media outlet(s) transaction delivery systems, as illustrated by block 420. Transaction delivery systems can create or update an order, as illustrated by block 422. An order may be a standing order or placeholder for media content. Media content providers can indicate they want to place media content (e.g., an advertising spot) in a certain time slot, e.g., 24 hours before the slot. By a certain time of day, media content providers can provide the media content (e.g., the advertising spot). In some embodiments, up to a certain time, e.g., 15 minutes, before the slot, the medic content providers can swap out the media content for different media content (a.k.a., a “preempt”). After creating or updating the order as illustrated by block 422, transaction delivery systems can inject the media content instructions into the log, as illustrated by block 424. Traffic and billing system may transmit insertion through ISL to media content delivery system.

If a new media content, transaction delivery systems can request the media content (e.g., audio) specified in the instructions sent and in the order created, as illustrated by block 426. If the enterprise hub database does not already have the requested media content, enterprise hub can forward the request to the media content provider interface, as illustrated by block 427. Media content provider may approve and transmit the media content, as illustrated by lock 428. Enterprise hub can receive the approved media content, as illustrated by block 430, store the approved media content in the enterprise hub database for future access, as illustrated by block 432, and transmit the approved media content to the transaction delivery systems via ISL. Transaction delivery systems can receive the media content from enterprise hub via ISL. If the media content is previously played media content (e.g., a previous advertising spot), the media content may be retrieved from the storage at the enterprise hub database.

In some embodiments, transaction delivery systems can transmit a now playing record of the media content (e.g., an advertising spot) as it plays in real-time to the enterprise hub, block 434. In some embodiments, transaction delivery systems can transmit the record on system 100 as part of a continuous, ticker feed or stream of information that enterprise hub may make available for viewing on media content provider interface. The media content provider can utilize the record to perform a near real-time review and verification of the media content, as illustrated by block 436. Based on the near real-time review, a media content provider may decide to preempt media content, as illustrated by block 438. A spot preemption can insert a different spot or some other content in place of an already injected spot. Media content provider interface can transmit the preemption content to enterprise hub, which can process the pre-emption, as illustrated by block 440, and can determine to which distributed media outlet the preemption should be transmitted. Enterprise hub can forward the preemption to the appropriate ISL(s), which can inject the preemption, as illustrated by block 442, so that distributed media outlet transaction delivery systems may inject as described above. Transaction delivery system may also generate reports and conduct billing and collection for display and action through media content provider interface.

The near real time review that can provided by the continuous, ticker feed or stream of information allows near real time verification of played advertisements and automatic make good of advertisements that did not air correctly due to a failure. In embodiments, advertisements that broadcast successfully within parameters established by an order can be acknowledged and marked as verified within seconds after they play. Any failed advertisements can be acknowledged and marked as “exceptions” within seconds, and can then automatically “re-inserted” by transaction delivery systems into an appropriate future slot, e.g., through the use of the dynamic Booking Agent, see U.S. application Ser. No. 11/419,492, which is incorporated by reference. The failed spot can be re-inserted with potentially adjusted priority levels to ensure successful execution. This process utilizes a synchronous near real time communication method that then triggers business rules and scheduling algorithms to perform a once fully manual belated process.

Described below are various processes that can be performed by embodiments of system 100 along a time-line. The example described below is for media content that is a radio advertising spot. The time-line and the processes that can be performed are centered or based upon functions or processes performed by media content provider and media content provider interface. The times discussed somewhat arbitrary but are illustrative of a typical performance of embodiments of system 100. At 12:00 AM, twenty-four hours prior to day of play, enterprise hub can receive and filter station logs from distributed media outlets. As noted above, media content providers may act as advertising brokers. Distributed media outlet unfiltered logs can contain the specifics of what spots will be played when, including the identification of the advertiser for each spot. Filtering the station logs can remove the identification of the advertiser and any other information that should not be shared with media content providers. In place of advertiser identification, logs may indicate type of business advertising for each spot already placed (e.g., instead of McDonalds™, filtered log indicates “restaurant” or “fast-food restaurant”). A filtered log can be transmitted to media content provider interface for display to media content provider. Sometime immediately after 12:00 AM, twenty-four hours prior to day of play, media content provider can make a final determination of which spots to claim and can transmit claimed spots to enterprise hub. Typically, this occurs by 12:05 AM day prior to day of play. Enterprise hub can inject claimed spots, transmitting the claimed spots to the appropriate media outlet transaction delivery systems. Media outlet transaction delivery systems can receive and register the claimed block or blocks and may release the unclaimed blocks to local market for local market advertising.

Sometime later, typically prior to and around 09:00 PM day prior to day of play, media content provider can inject spots and determine spot details for each of its spots, including audio content and transmits spot metadata using media content provider interface. Enterprise hub may receive and transform the spot metadata (i.e., the instructions for broadcasting the spot) and the audio content for the spot. The media content provider typically uses a particular metadata format; the enterprise hub transforming transforms the media content provider formatted metadata to a format distributed media outlet transaction delivery systems can use. Enterprise hub can transmit spot metadata (the instructions for broadcasting) and audio content to distributed media outlets. In the example here, enterprise hub can transmit transformed spot metadata, e.g., via ISL, to a traffic and billing system, which can create the details of the media content provider's orders for avails, i.e., “order lines”, and transmit transformed spot metadata and audio content to the media content (i.e., audio) delivery system. The media content delivery system can automatically places the spot in the media content delivery system planned playlist for future play based on processing the spot metadata (i.e., processing the instructions for broadcasting). These automatic functions can be performed for each of media content provider's claimed avails prior to midnight day of play. These functions can be performed iteratively as theses functions are repeated for as many spots and as many stations that media content provider has placed claims.

These automatic functions may also be repeated shortly before airing of a spot, for example, just prior to 15 minutes before play time. As above, media content provider can determine spot details and transmits spot metadata (i.e., instructions for broadcasting the advertising spot), in this case, changing the spot details and metadata. Enterprise hub may receive and transform the spot metadata and the audio content. Enterprise hub may transmit spot metadata and audio content to distributed media outlet delivery systems. Here, distributed media outlet traffic and billing system can create or change order lines (depending on whether new spot or spot preemption (replacement spot) and the media content delivery system can place the spot in the planned playlist. Media content provider can change or submit a new advertising sport (or other media outlet) very shortly before the scheduled broadcasting time, e.g., up to 15 minutes prior to broadcasting time (time can be set closer to broadcasting time—15 minutes allows sufficient margin of error to avoid potential problems—e.g., network congestion, communication problems or failures, corrupted files, etc.). At broadcasting time, distributed media outlet media content delivery system can play spot.

As will be appreciated, some embodiments may be embodied as a system, method or computer program product. Accordingly, some embodiments may take the form of an entirely hardware embodiment, an entirely software embodiment (including firmware, resident software, micro-code, etc.) or a combination of software and hardware aspects that may all generally be referred to herein as a “circuit,” “module” or “system.” Furthermore, some embodiments may take the form of a computer program product embodied in any tangible medium of expression having computer-usable program code embodied in the medium.

Any combination of one or more computer usable or computer readable medium(s) may be utilized. The computer-usable or computer-readable medium may be, for example but not limited to, an electronic, magnetic, optical, electromagnetic, infrared, or semiconductor system, apparatus, device, or propagation medium. More specific examples (a non-exhaustive list) of the computer-readable medium include the following: an electrical connection having one or more wires, a portable computer diskette, a hard disk, a random access memory (RAM), a read-only memory (ROM), an erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM or Flash memory), an optical fiber, a portable compact disc read-only memory (CDROM), an optical storage device, a transmission media such as those supporting the Internet or an intranet, or a magnetic storage device.

In fact, the computer-usable or computer-readable medium could even be paper or another suitable medium upon which the program is printed, as the program can be electronically captured, via, for instance, optical scanning of the paper or other medium, then compiled, interpreted, or otherwise processed in a suitable manner, if necessary, and then stored in a computer memory. In the context of this document, a computer-usable or computer-readable medium may be any medium that can contain, store, communicate, propagate, or transport the program for use by or in connection with the instruction execution system, apparatus, or device.

The computer-usable medium may facilitate the propagation of data signals with the computer-usable program code embodied therewith, either in baseband or as part of a carrier wave. The computer usable program code may be transmitted using any appropriate medium, including but not limited to wireless, wireline, optical fiber cable, RF, etc. Computer program code for carrying out operations of the present invention may be written in any combination of one or more programming languages, including an object oriented programming language such as Java, Smalltalk, C++ or the like and conventional procedural programming languages, such as the “C” programming language or similar programming languages. The program code may execute entirely on the user's computer, partly on the user's computer, as a stand-alone software package, partly on the user's computer and partly on a remote computer or entirely on the remote computer or server. In the latter scenario, the remote computer may be connected to the user's computer through any type of network, including a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN), or the connection may be made to an external computer (for example, through the Internet using an Internet Service Provider). Embodiments are described with reference to flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams of methods, apparatus (systems) and computer program products.

It will be understood that each block of the flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams, and combinations of blocks in the flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams, can be implemented by computer program instructions. These computer program instructions may be provided to a processor of a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or other programmable data processing apparatus to produce a machine, such that the instructions, which execute via the processor of the computer or other programmable data processing apparatus, create means for implementing the functions/acts specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks. These computer program instructions may also be stored in a computer-readable medium that can direct a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to function in a particular manner, such that the instructions stored in the computer-readable medium produce an article of manufacture including instruction means which implement the function/act specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks. The computer program instructions may also be loaded onto a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to cause a series of operational steps to be performed on the computer or other programmable apparatus to produce a computer implemented process such that the instructions which execute on the computer or other programmable apparatus provide processes for implementing the functions/acts specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.

The corresponding structures, materials, acts, and equivalents of all means or step plus function elements in the claims below are intended to include any structure, material, or act for performing the function in combination with other claimed elements as specifically claimed. The description has been presented for purposes of illustration and description, but is not intended to be exhaustive or limited to the form disclosed. Many modifications and variations will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of this technology. The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles and the practical application, and to enable others of ordinary skill in the art to understand various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to particular uses contemplated.