GroupM reorganizes, putting data at the core of targeting and buying

Dive Brief:

  • GroupM in North America has created Platform Services, a new organization that encompasses programmatic media, search marketing, social media, digital operations and digital analytics to streamline how marketers find, create and activate audiences, the agency said in a press release
  • The move is part of a broader reorganization from WPP’s media planning and buying group intended to enhance value in its work with brand marketers by centering operations around two pillars: media investment and platform services. 
  • The company has appointed Lyle Schwartz as President of Investment, North America. Schwartz has a research and analytics background and will lead the oversight of the division’s media buying resources, marketplace analytics and media implementation efforts. 

Dive Insight:

GroupM’s reorganization reflects how the umbrella organization is putting data and insights at the core of media planning and buying across its agencies, which include Mindshare, MEC, MediaCom, Essence and M/Six.

The new Platform Services organization, which has named former Mediacom CEO Phil Cowdell as President, is an attempt to better support marketers as they struggle to effectively target digital ads. With the growth in granular targeting on platforms such as Facebook, brands are able to hone in on a narrow group of highly qualified consumers and deliver relevant content. However, such an approach can come at the expense of scale. Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard highlighted the dangers of over-targeting when he said as much earlier this year that over-targeting caused the company to lose sales.

Media planning agencies such as GroupM have lost some relevance for brands as automated buying has grown. The WPP group is likely trying to enhance its value for brands by partnering more tightly with them around their targeting strategy, something other agencies are also trying to do. For example, this summer, Dentsu Aegis bought data-driven agency Merkle for $1.5 billion. 

In an other reflection of data's role in GroupM's reorganization, the appointment of Schwartz as the investment practice’s president is the first time someone with a research and analytics background has been named trading chief for a major media investment group, per the press release.

“This decision underscores our belief that data and insights are fundamental to the success of the entire business,” said Brian Lesser, CEO of GroupM North America.

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Top image credit: GroupM