- Interpublic Group of Cos, or IPG Mediabrands, plans to invest "tens of millions" of dollars into its data operations and to build a system to more easily facilitate that data with its agency holdings, according to The Wall Street Journal. IPG is one of the four largest ad holding groups in the world.
- As part of its data initiative, IPG has created a new executive role called chief data and marketing technology officer, which will be filled by Arun Kumar, global president of IPG's digital ad-buying arm Cadreon. Kumar will continue to oversee Cadreon, IPG said in a release.
- "The objective is to get all our data assets and infrastructure in one place. We need to create an infrastructure that enables everyone to access it," Kumar told the Journal. He stated that better analyzing data could uncover new audiences for IPG's products and that he expects IPG will consolidate more digital buying partners with the move.
As hitting digital growth benchmarks continues to prove elusive for agencies, more major advertising players are investing in data management and analysis to improve their efforts and even open up new revenue streams. Earlier this week, Publicis Groupe expanded its pilot program with Microsoft in order to deepen the data services provided by its Cosmos product, and the latest IPG news has a similar bent.
IPG's creation of an entirely new executive position as part of its data push highlights how agencies are reconfiguring old roles to accommodate a rapidly evolving marketing landscape that demands different skill sets. Kumar's suggestion that more consolidation of properties and even potential acquisitions are on the horizon points to how agencies are also attempting to clear out their clutter and sharpen focus to boost efficiency.
Agencies' pivot to build out more data infrastructure arrives, not just as a response to digital growth headwinds — which have been an issue since the channel first rose to prominence — but also as competition in the space heats up.
Big-name consultancies like Accenture and Deloitte, along with smaller specialty shops, have started to offer more robust creative services for marketers, taking away some business traditionally delegated to agencies like IPG and Publicis.
Last year, ad agencies were mired in a number of controversies ranging from undisclosed rebates to, more recently, alleged commercial contract bid-rigging. These dustups have called into question the level of transparency in agency-client relationships across the industry; in turn, marketers have been putting their agencies under review at record levels, with many shifting operations to other third-parties outside of the agency sphere or otherwise creating in-house teams.