Mediabrands VP Brunick Discusses Agency Trading Desk Cadreon's Performance, Sees Momentum

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CadreonMichael Brunick is VP, Strategic Partnerships, Mediabrands Worldwide, a media buying and planning unit of Interpublic Group.

Brunick discussed recent momentum for Cadreon, Mediabrands' agency trading desk.

AdExchanger.com: A recent article in AdWeek said that IPG’s trading desk, Cadreon, has "about 20" clients. Is this true? And how does this number compare to what you perceive as success metrics for IPG Mediabrands' trading desk strategy?

MB: We currently have more than 20 clients at Cadreon, and have seen our client growth trajectory in the 4-5x range per year since Cadreon’s inception in 2009.  More compelling however, we have seen a phenomenal response from many of our advertisers in regards to satisfaction and retention rates, with 86% of our clients re-engaging with us for additional services following their initial activity.  Of course, spending levels are also an important dimension of accomplishment, and we have been successful enough to see over half of our clients increase their budgets by more than double year-over-year.

Another piece that we find significant to evaluate is the size and/or type of client we typically engage with.  We made a calculated decision early on to work with some of our larger and more digitally-focused advertisers within IPG, and made that a focus of our organization as we worked to scale the business.  As we broaden our footprint across the holding company and work with a larger assortment of advertisers, this has helped us develop a solid offering, road-tested under some of the more challenging conditions.

Can you talk about brand awareness vs. direct response dollars flowing through Cadreon and any trends you're seeing there?

There is certainly an affinity for performance-oriented advertisers to want to take advantage of these types of capabilities, but we tend not to dimensionalize our clients in that way within Cadreon.  As we see it, an offering like Cadreon has appeal for almost any marketer, as long as they have some form of desired outcome.  If they want to drive to an online conversion, that’s great.  If they are looking for engagement with a particular piece of content or destination, no problem.  Or if they are looking to deliver a particular message to a specific audience efficiently and at scale, that works too.  To us, it’s more about what our advertisers are looking to do with their marketing programs, rather than what category we think they fit into.

Is Cadreon buying guaranteed inventory today on behalf of its clients in addition to exchange-based, non-guaranteed display inventory?

While our focus to this point has been primarily on non-guaranteed/options-based activity, we think it’s important to evaluate all types of engagement models for our clients.  As such, there is most definitely the possibility of incorporating additional forms of transactions into our offering.  We have always maintained that we want the services we engage in for our clients to – first and foremost – be in their best interest.  As a result, we steered away from bulk, primarily price-focused buying, mainly because the kinds of activity they delivered didn’t necessarily align to client objectives.  Over the past few years, we have worked with many of our media partners to develop additional types of relationships, and as a result have more options to offer our clients, including the incorporation of guaranteed-type buys.

How is Cadreon differentiating itself among all of the agency holding company trading desks today?

One of the main differentiators is our overall approach to how we engage with clients.  We are best utilized in the role of strategic consultants – systems integrators – bringing to bear best-of-breed capabilities from across our vast array of partners to help solve our clients’ unique marketing challenges.  We have been fortunate enough to work with marketers that value and empower us to execute in that manner, which can range from media campaign execution to sophisticated audience analysis to advanced data modeling, and everything in between.  When we are able to work side-by-side with our agencies and clients to help solve for business outcomes, we have the opportunity to help drive real value in their marketing efforts.

Are there any milestones you can share in terms of clients on Cadreon or spend you expect to achieve a year from now?

To put it simply, our goal is to grow and evolve at an incredibly aggressive pace, which is what we have done now for the past few years.  That ultimately manifests itself in two core areas: 1) the services we offer our clients, and 2) the places we do business.

In regards to the services, you hit on one important aspect, which is the type of channels we incorporate into our offering.  Whether it be video, mobile, digital out-of-home – or the continuation of our successful expansion into targeted-TV – the places we have available to us to find, analyze and distribute experiences to consumer audiences are essential.  Additionally, the ability to offer sophisticated insights and analytics services – either as a stand-alone capability or in conjunction with campaign activity – is an area where we see incredible demand.

As it relates to the places we do business, the analytics piece is one of the benefits of the amount of data we have access to.  What’s really nice is that it’s something both advertisers and our agency partners can take advantage of, which is key as we begin to expand our footprint and work with more parties within the marketing ecosystem.  Much of what we do is incredibly valuable to creative partners, and has been an essential value proposition in our expansion within the IPG family.  The other aspect of the places we do business is of course the physical.  As we look to expand our services further, international expansion will be a critical component, and is something we are actively exploring.

By John Ebbert

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