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Essence Hires Oscar Garza Of EA To Develop Programmatic Buying Offerings

oscar-garzaDigital agency Essence has hired Oscar Garza, formerly of Electronic Arts (EA), to lead a new effort to bring programmatic buying solutions to clients in North America.

Garza started this week as director of programmatic and audience, tasked with building a new team based out of Essence’s San Francisco office.

As director of acquisition for EA since 2011, Garza brought the company’s programmatic buying capabilities in-house across display, social and video. Garza also led advertising strategy for direct-to-consumer campaigns, including for the popular title "Star Wars: The Old Republic."

“The rapid adoption of programmatic channels is allowing us to provide a new level of transparency, efficiency and measurement to our clients,” said Essence’s CEO for North America, Christian Juhl, in a statement. “We expect to spend over $300 million in programmatic over the next year, working with leading partners in the industry.”


DigitasLBi NewFront: Digital Convergence And The Need For Speed

DigitasThere was no agency more present on the NewFront circuit this week than DigitasLBi.

The Publicis-owned agency, formed when the holding company merged Digitas and LBi last February, was out in full force as a partner on AOL’s original content, Google Preferred and, at its own NewFront Thursday, as a partner to publishers and tech platforms.

One recurring theme of the event, called “Fearless,” was the convergence of digital, video and TV.

“We are already seeing evidence that the premium online video market is in fact at a tipping point,” said Tony Weisman, CEO of DigitasLBi North America. He referenced the Amazon and HBO partnership giving Amazon Prime members access to some HBO programming.

The content licensing deal looks like another nail in the coffin of traditional TV, as consumers continue to bypass standard cable subscriptions (even DISH is reportedly planning to debut an Internet TV service this summer). Weisman called it a “harbinger of the video-TV streaming market and the future of television.”

Weisman told an audience of media planners that “no one’s selling anything anything today," in contrast to the standard NewFront where platform companies preached “scarcity” to ignite a sense of urgency in buyers.

The agency also unveiled a partnership with BuzzFeed on branded content following a relationship that dates back two years – more evidence of blurred lines between publisher and agency-generated content.


Q1 Roundup: Digital Media Strength Propels Agencies

wpp-mediaWith the Omnicom-Publicis merger now in some doubt, WPP Group retains a glimmer of hope that it could remain the world's largest agency holding company past the third quarter.

In its Q1 earnings report Friday, WPP listed media investment – represented by its GroupM network and the Xaxis ad tech unit – as among its strongest performing sectors. Read the earnings release.

Growth in media services – particularly digital and data-driven media – was also evident in upbeat Q1 reports from WPP rivals Interpublic Group (IPG), Omnicom Group and MDC Partners.

Meanwhile Publicis' ZenithOptimedia and IPG's Magna Global have upwardly revised their global media investment forecasts for 2014. This momentum runs contrary to the narrative that media agencies are under threat of disintermediation as ad-buying automation takes hold. Or, if that trend is real, it has yet to inflict real pain.

WPP's media investment businesses grew 10% as measured by gross margin and net sales, and GroupM generated new media billings of $586 million (£366 million) during the quarter across Xaxis, Mindshare, MEC, MediaCom, GroupM Search and other agencies. Much of that was likely in digital media, contributing to the $10 billion GroupM already invests across addressable channels.

WPP does not break out programmatic spend, but the company has given its Xaxis "programmatic platform" plenty of room to run, suggesting it likes the revenue growth and margins it generates. Xaxis has made a string of acquisitions in recent months and absorbed its internal sibling 24/7 Media. The result has been a more robust publisher offering, priming Xaxis to do more exclusive supply deals that Global CEO Brian Lesser believes distinguish it from its trading desk rivals.


How Agency Media Storm Meets The Integration Challenge

CharlieFMedia Storm, the media planning and buying arm of agency network Water Cooler Group, is breaking down siloes to mirror consumer – and client – media requirements.

Media Storm’s sister companies Hip Genius (social media) and Maude (creative/strategy) share the same real estate and come in on cross-team campaign meetings, according to Charlie Fiordalis, who leads a team of 50 as managing director of digital for Media Storm.

Fiordalis was previously executive director of client services for Omnicom agency Organic, and held roles at Digitas, Y&R and NBC Universal. He now oversees roll-out of new technologies for his media-planning team. These have included partnerships with Tremor on "all screen" video advertising and partnership and with Eyeview to customize audience segments for TV clients.

Fiordalis spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: Who is on your roster?

CHARLIE FIORDALIS: We do campaigns with FOX, FX, MTV, the Food Network, but we have wins outside of that space. We’re working with Chipotle, Phillips 66 and Memorial Sloan Kettering, and are broadening out from the entertainment space.


Agencies Talk Native Measurement

measuringNativeWhile native advertising is this year’s digital buzzword, it’s not clear how one can measure its effectiveness. AdExchanger ran this question past a number of agencies:

“How do you measure native advertising?” 

Click below or scroll down to read their responses


Merkle Buys Chicago's New Control, Bringing Agency Group Headcount To 450

merkle-new-controlMerkle keeps piling on agency services. The CRM and database marketing company has acquired Chicago-based New Control, a "digital and direct" agency with a focus on financial industry clients including Chase, Fifth Third Bank, PNC Bank and Visa.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Merkle EVP and digital agency lead Craig Dempster told AdExchanger the deal creates a Chicago footprint for the agency, with analysts and messaging experts focused on the credit vertical. "In a lot of our media relationships today we do the creative work," Dempster said. "Here, we've acquired a team with a strong methodology in driving direct response performance with creative."

Merkle and New Control both have strength in financial services, but Merkle is focused on retail banking and New Control does credit card marketing. Dempster said, "this expands our performance-based creative communications. Their expertise in addressable media and creating integrated marketing communications in addressable is attractive to us."


Agencies And Brands Can’t Stay Comfortable Spending In One Spot

AgencyPlansThe brand-agency relationship used to be relatively simple. True, brands would have multiple agencies – social, digital, media-buying, for instance – but most of the spend would focus on a single area, usually television.

But as other digital channels become more important to consumers, brands are beginning to realize that stuffing too much money in one area detracts from the others or ultimately adds to the problem of fragmentation.

“Social and video are now playing a part of our traditional buys at NewFronts,” said Sean Black, managing director and group digital director for MediaCom, during a content and video panel hosted by Mindshare, Taboola and Beet.TV in New York on Tuesday.

As demand for more accountability and proven ROI at the agency level increases, brands are making more small investments over time – a contrast to the days when they’d dump a load of money into a single grand campaign. But this philosophy knocks many agencies out of their comfort zones.

“Agencies are comfortable taking the money pot and spending in one spot,” said Jordan Bitterman, chief strategy officer for WPP agency Mindshare North America. “No agency is really set up [for the change] but we feel Mindshare is. We look at our clients’ business and say, ‘Marketing is war.’ There are battles of attrition, audience fragmentation and money that’s being decentralized.”

Adam Singolda, CEO of content-discovery and distribution platform Taboola, seconded that statement. He noted the frequent consolidation in the agency world is occurring because agencies have recognized a need to diversify their expertise. With more platforms, portals and services plays vying for the brand dollar, getting in front of consumer demand is becoming mandatory.


Programmatic Gets Local For LA Agency Davis Elen

davis-elenYou walk into a Honda dealership, and a Toyota ad pops up on your cell phone. The future of programmatic is destined to get more mobile and more local as ad exchanges and agencies team up on innovations that will target consumers more specifically, even when they’re on the move.

Christina Lee, a senior digital planner at Los Angeles-based ad agency Davis Elen. Lee has worked with publisher-direct ad network engage:BDR to take advantage of its targeting capabilities for hyperlocal campaigns.

“McDonald's Los Angeles is our client,” Lee explained, “so we used Engage:BDR’s hypergeographic techniques to target consumers on the go within a one-mile radius of a McDonald's... It was a pretty successful breakfast campaign that tried to get to the customers when they were in a state of mind to buy.”

Programmatic is changing the way Lee gets things done. “It’s made targeting a lot better and more streamlined from the brand perspective by letting us go a few layers deeper into the consumers we’re trying to reach. We’re also looking into programmatic’s cross-device capabilities to target the same users on their phone, tablet and home computer," she said. (more…)

Marc Landsberg: Why A TV Network Could Buy Twitter

LandsbergMarc Landsberg knows agencies.

Landsberg previously served as the former EVP at Leo Burnett and president and CEO of Arc and MRM Worldwide. As the current CEO of Chicago-based social agency socialdeviant, he says the traditional media-buying process has been turned upside down and the players flipping the tables aren’t the platform providers.

Comcast’s planned acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and video ad-serving platform FreeWheel indicate an unassuming entrant to traditional agency territory: the TV networks.

Landsberg spoke with AdExchanger further about this shift, how data is remaking social media and why a single platform-centric approach to the media buy is not good enough.

AdExchanger: What is socialdeviant?

MARC LANDSBERG: I started socialdeviant because I thought brands were really underserved. Data is not the panacea, but you need it in order to inform the targets and the segments. One thing we’re doing is data-driven social segmentation. When brands do their segmentation, they usually put people in personas that are kind of attitudinal. They then hand them to their digital and direct or CRM and social agencies and don’t necessarily reinterpret them for those channels.

We’re not a tool, but our job is to help our clients contextualize social around their business goals. We are two years and one month old. We are already 20 full-time people and we have 10-plus clients and six agency-of-record relationships, so that’s been great. We’re trying to be the McKinsey meets Crispin Porter of social. I think there remain huge gaps in the marketplace. Marketing will never be fully automated. There will always be people. And there will always be judgments to be made based on the data.


Agency Hybrid L2 Grabs $16.5 Million From General Catalyst Partners

ScottGDigital think tank and research consultancy L2 is looking to corner the market on prestige brand and CPG strategy.

A new investment round of $16.5 million from General Catalyst Partners (a HubSpot investor) received Wednesday also underscores the intersection of the management consultancy and digital agency.

“The two primary buckets for this investment will be for technology, since we want to increase our ability to deliver more information across more regions in a more robust way,” said L2’s founder and CEO, Scott Galloway, a clinical professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business. “We [also] plan to have a dozen people in Europe by the end of the year, and some people on the West Coast and in Asia. We see an opportunity to be disruptive to traditional strategy consulting, which is about a $25 billion market.”

Paul Sagan, a partner at General Catalyst, has joined L2 as non-executive chairman. Larry Bohn, managing director of General Catalyst, has also joined the board.

Galloway began the company four years ago when he saw a commercial opportunity from data that arose from a research project at NYU in which Galloway and his team applied 850 data points to rank 100 brands’ digital footprints.

“We started in ‘prestige’ brands with L2 because we saw a digital revolution was coming to the luxury space,” Galloway said. It was also an area underserved by traditional management consultancies, which had strong clout in verticals such as financial services.