NEW YORK: Deprived, whether temporarily or permanently, of dynamic former Wal-Mart marketer Julie Roehm, the consortium of advertisers backing her eMedia Exchange idea intend to pursue the imaginative project.

Roehm was the scheme's main driving force, and it was she who pursued the idea of auctioning TV ad slots in a realtime environment and persuaded eBay to provide the technology.

In the wake of her shock departure from Wal-Mart last week [WARC News: 06-Dec-06], it is uncertain whether the Bentonville brontosaurus will remain a member of the consortium backing the exchange.

It is equally unclear if Roehm, as an individual, will stay with the project, which also involves advertisers of the stature of Lexus, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Home Depot, Intel and Brown-Forman.

The concept, reportedly funded to the tune of $50 million (€37.81m; £25.57m) in its first phase, is also supported by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

eMedia's aim is to rationalize the TV-buying business and provide greater transparency on pricing - an idea unpopular in some quarters during the project's early days when it was criticized as "unworkable".

Those close to the concept stress it is intended to supplement, not supplant, the ancient social ritual of the TV upfronts.

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff