- GroupM, WPP’s media investment group, is launching a new data and digital services initiative called mPlatform that unifies data analytics and digital services including search, social, mobile, digital ad operations and programmatic into one team, according to a company press release.
- MPlatform will centralize data from across WPP’s offerings, including the Kantar and Wunderman groups; third-party providers; GroupM data drawn from agreements with global media partners; and WPP clients’ own data.
- Brian Gleason, former global CEO of WPP’s Xaxis group, will be the chief executive of mPlatform. Four regional presidents will suport Gleason. WPP is the world’s largest ad buyer, with Group M placing around one-third of all ads seen around the world, according to Adweek.
WPP’s latest play at streamlining its data offerings and digital services follows an ongoing trend toward consolidation among many of the industry’s largest ad players: Publicis Groupe also recently combined two of its major digital agencies, SapientNitro and Razorfish, into a single entity called SapientRazorfish — a merger which came about “in response to client needs for digital expertise at scale.”
MPlatform’s launch similarly hints at the difficulties traditional ad agencies have experienced in managing an ever-more unwieldy and competitive digital media landscape. In a statement, CEO Gleason suggests the “rise of digital and mobile technologies, media fragmentation and expanding e-commerce” is making “the scientific application of data to media strategies [...] essential” for marketers — and, by extension, their ad buyers.
Given the scope of GroupM’s media buying power, the shift of all digital services and data to a single platform could provide a wealth of targeting information for clients and better support cross-channel planning.
GroupM might also be eager to reassure its existing business following the recent loss of some significant clients including AT&T’s $2 billion North America account, which switched over to Omnicom in the fall. AT&T’s departure came as a significant blow to GroupM, with Tim Castree ultimately replacing Charles Courtier as head of the agency's media investment arm MEC earlier this month.
Many agencies have seen formerly solid client relations crumble of late, as brand marketers have become increasingly wary of their ad buyers overs issues like a lack of transparency and the aforementioned failure to get a handle on digital channels. Agencies can also struggle to capture a brand’s essence creatively, and some marketers like Marriott have seen significant success in moving some production in-house.