MEC's Bamberger On Audience Buying, Facebook Platform

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It was three months ago that Jack Bamberger joined GroupM agency MEC as president, digital for North America. He was in some ways an unusual choice, having far more experience on the media than the agency side. Of his last 20 years, 13 were spent at Time Inc., Meredith Corporation, and Ashton Kutcher's Katalyst Media.

In that last role he helped founders Kutcher and Jason Goldberg grow the business from a branded entertainment studio into a full service social marketing firm. Later he leapt to the agency world, working for Dentsu as chief consumer engagement officer for one year before a short stint at Appssavvy.

Bamberger spoke with AdExchanger about audience buying, Facebook, and what a media agency should be in a world increasingly dominated by data.

Can you describe the audience buying efforts now underway at MEC and what the overall opportunity is for your clients?

JACK BAMBERGER: MEC is aligned with GroupM in bringing the best data and technology solutions to our clients to efficiently and effectively reach their audiences. We've been buying audiences, from what I've learned, for many years but the evolution of programmatic buying allows clients to have much more control over the process of selecting them. The growth in RTB impressions and participation from new more premium partners in the RTB space requires us to think about how to best use audience data across these new marketplaces to meet the media objectives.

Do you think it's best for MEC to keep the audience buying practice rooted at the holding company level, through Xaxis, or to have a local capability that you invest in over time? 

We have a close relationship with Xaxis that has evolved with specific client needs. Xaxis also has the ability to represent the breadth of GroupM in the marketplace, opening up new data and inventory opportunities in addition to offering proprietary technology and products that can benefit our clients.

Is programmatic just about display ads on ad exchanges?

No, not at all. It's a horizontal solution and that's what I think is really interesting about the Xaxis model. But again, it's really all based on what the specific client needs are in terms of working with Xaxis. Depending on what they are we determine what the right relationship is or isn't.

Regarding Facebook, how do you view the Ads API channel in relation to the Facebook Exchange?

With regards to what you're calling the API Partners, we continue to partner, where appropriate, to compliment our targeting and data strategies as well as drive efficiencies for our clients. We're primarily interested in these partnerships in regard to the data and technology offerings that we can marry with our internal expertise. Our subject matter experts need to be working with the best tools available on the market, so we're constantly evaluating these technology partnerships as the space evolves.

The Facebook Exchange only launched in June. It remains a burgeoning and exciting opportunity to extend our audience buying efforts and the strategic application of our clients first as well as third party data. We are, I would say, in the early stages with Facebook Exchange and expect to evolve our approach as Facebook evolves this offering. Most critically though we believe it's important to manage all client Facebook media in a consolidated fashion to ensure holistic oversight. I think that's a key differentiator, at least from an MEC perspective.

This also allows MEC to extend data learnings across the various Facebook ad vehicles and to avoid internal competition between the premium media, the API driven marketplace media, and the new Facebook Exchange inventory opportunity.

Have you staffed up to manage the Ads API partners or do you rely on the API companies managed services offerings?

We're growing our social media group and we're focused on managing all of our clients Facebook media to the best of our ability in a consolidated fashion so that we ensure holistic oversight. That, to me, is the really critical piece because the more we holistically manage and own that relationship, the more we can be strategic as a solution provider in helping them meet their business needs on the platform.

Attribution seems to be an area where there's been real progress in the last two to three years. Agree?

Tremendous progress. We are very data focused and we are using data to our advantage to drive decision-making on a holistic basic from strategy development to optimization to implementation. No surprise, I think that will be more and more important. Clients have far more data than they know what to do with and we're building solutions for that.

What about attribution models merging digital and offline. Is that something MEC can solve solve?

We're engaged in that process right now for some of our clients. The enthusiasm from clients is extraordinary and we're excited about is the opportunity to build more of these solutions across all of our clients.

Also we are seeing results short term. We've made some key strategic hires in this area just in the last few months and that has helped us tremendously in terms of not only growing out the capability but also creating the solutions for our clients. But there's definitely a growing need and we're very excited about that.

Which data management solutions are doing it best?

With regards to data and the evaluation of data, whether it be first party or DMP, or old-line data managers, all of our clients have an increased focus on data -- what they can bring to the table from their own assets and what they can enhance through smart partnerships and synergies with third party providers, et cetera.

That said, regardless of the platform we find that advertiser direct inputs or data influenced and customized by the advertiser tends to be most successful. It's important to understand how these historical marketing databases have been leveraged in the past and what updates need to be made to make them relevant for digital. But we are working hard to create the most robust tools and solutions for them so that we can, again, make both strategic and real time decisions on their behalf. Again, what we're seeing is the best data that we're getting is really from the client and that's where we're encouraging our clients to help us as we navigate through these waters.

Follow Jack Bamberger (@JackBamberger) and AdExchanger (@AdExchanger) on Twitter. 

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