Talking With VivaKi AOD's New President, Stephan Beringer

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stephan-beringer-usethisStephan Beringer is in for a ride.

Earlier this week Beringer was named president of Publicis Groupe's VivaKi Audience On Demand (AOD) trading desk. He succeeds Kurt Unkel, a respected agency leader and progenitor of the trading desk idea, who will exit at the end of February for a hometown job as chief digital officer of WPP Group's Team Detroit.

Filling Unkel's shoes would be a big enough task even without Publicis Groupe's impending merger with Omnicom Group. But of course, that merger looms large for AOD's 300-plus rank-and-file employees and raises some tough questions for Beringer. How will AOD interact with Omnicom's Accuen trading desk? Is there room for more than one desk within the world's (soon to be) largest agency conglomerate?

In a conversation with AdExchanger, Beringer declined to get into post-merger scenarios. But he did talk about where he sees trading desks going and his vision for greater alignment of agencies and tech platforms.

"The trading desk model in the future has a bigger role than it has today," he said. "With the convergence of technology, data and content, creating scale with technologies that support addressability is not only remaining in place. The more complex our world becomes, the more important these solutions become."

Beringer has since last May been chief growth officer for Publicis's Digital Technologies Division, with oversight of the company's key Adobe alliance and other digital initiatives. Before that, from 2009 until 2013, he was international CEO of Razorfish and Digitas. Earlier he led digital agency Tribal DDB in the EMEA region. His knowledge of the European market, a key growth region for programmatic, runs deep.

Significantly, Beringer's role in advancing the Adobe partnership will be merged into his new position – suggesting AOD's remit may eventually expand from digital media to include more holistic communications, such as offline and CRM.

Here's how Beringer describes the opportunity for technology-focused marketing services organizations:  "On the one side you have agencies – ad agencies, media agencies, PR agencies, direct marketing agencies -- who over the last years have grown their business capabilities. On the other side, you have a thick block of technology companies who over the last years have invested billions to enter marketing. Companies like Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle, SAP."

He continued, "In the middle you find companies that are catalysts, that create solutions for clients. I've been working in that space for many years. I've started creating alliances with technology partners so we can develop solutions together. It's a massive growth lane from our business perspective and it's a massive need from a client perspective, because ultimately software needs to be turned into a solution to be successful and worthwhile."

While Adobe has been the most visible of Publicis's enterprise software partners, it will be important for Beringer to diversify to other platforms. Standardizing with one platform is an error VivaKi has committed before; its one-time reliance on Google's DoubleClick Bid Manager for programmatic buying caused it to be locked out of Facebook Exchange for a time.

Beringer describes Publicis's partnerships with software giants like Adobe as "very long term."

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