Earlier this month, WPP Group media agency Mindshare created the post of "chief data officer" and hired analytics veteran Bob Ivins to fill it. Ivins arrives from Comcast where he worked on addressable TV efforts as VP of the Comcast Business Intelligence Group and the Comcast 360 sales unit. Before that he held executive posts related to data management at comScore, Yahoo, Nielsen and I/PRO, an early internet audience measurement provider.
Very few if any big media agencies have a dedicated manager of data. That could change with the rising need to collaborate and compete with a range of ad tech vendors and sites that are increasingly sophisticated in working with marketing data on their own.
Ivins expanded on those thoughts in a conversation with us.
AdExchanger: Clients have a tough time sharing first party data with agencies. How do you overcome that and get those walls to come down?
BOB IVINS: I'm going to give the Reagan speech and say, "Tear down that wall!" Seriously, I think those walls have been coming down on their own and for quite a while. We've done some work with a credit card company. They're pretty careful with their information, but they recognize that significant synergies can be created when you append data, especially at the individual household level so that you can increase the precision of what you're trying to do.
We're able to get marketing information that shows a person in a household was exposed to these ads across TV and online and then are able to say, "That consumer behaved this way." The dynamic can be expanded when we have multiple data assets pulling together in a secure environment.
You've spoken about the idea of "Adaptive Marketing" as the ability to harness consumer insights in real-time. How does that concept get applied in an agency context?
If you think about how we use data to rapidly evolve the marketing messaging and create this "virtuous cycle" around media investments, data is going to be fuel for that. On the front end, data will be about where we can make the most efficient investments. In the process of delivering media and monitoring consumer behavior, there's going to be data exhaust that we will ingest, analyze and that will inform of the next iteration of that cycle.
Last year, we did an interview Mindshare CTO Steve Plimsoll where he said that DMPs weren't living up to their billing and true potential, because they were primarily cookie-based and didn't include enough original insights about offline behavior. What is your sense of the state of DMPs today?
If you look at the rate of development of data in the online world, DMPs were built from scratch to some extent. And online is naturally a data-driven environment. If you look at where the offline world is coming from – and I hate to use those terms online and offline, as I'm hoping they'll disappear over time – there is an existing legacy structure that needs to be transformed. That's going to take some time. We're all moving to some point in the future where we can all monitor exposure at an individual or household level and that will all get fed into a data management platform.
But I do think that Steve is exactly right: they haven't lived up to their promise. I often tell people if they've only worked in digital, then they should get a job in TV – and that message goes vice versa. The point is you can't be solely about online or offline media, because these worlds are going to mesh.
Do you have any plans to expand Mindshare's DMP, Core?
There's a constant need to look at a company's data offerings. It should be noted that Core does take advantage of offline data as well as cookie-based data. As for my specific focus around Core, at four days in the job, I would start with examining the basic blocking and tackling that Core does. That includes consumer insights and intelligence. Data is the foundation for everything. We need to identify the data assets we have available to us, and look at whether we acquire more of them from working with additional third parties or building them in-house. Or, a combination of those two ideas, naturally.
What does Twitter's acquisition of MoPub mean for agencies? It would seem to allow Twitter to do more marketing directly with mobile publishers.
Twitter has been out there with acquiring companies left and right. Bluefin was a very notable deal in how it extended Twitter's connections. We'll see what happens with MoPub, which had a lot to do with getting Twitter ready for its IPO debut.
There's been a lot of talk about media owners' use of data and attempts to try to disintermediate the agency position from the conversation between publishers and marketers. There is a sexiness on the part of the advertiser talking directly to a company like Twitter.
But our business is still strong and it's hard to see how companies like Twitter and Facebook are going to completely elbow us out of the conversation. In a sense, Twitter and Facebook represent one channel, one area of the marketing chain. We have customers with a lot of communications needs and activities. Twitter and Facebook might be experts and how to monitor social activity, they're not going to know what's going on TV, they're not going to know what's going on in "owned media." So they're going to still work with us on understanding how all those channels are working together in a 360-degree communications package. Suffice to say, they're more partners than competitors.
Do you expect to conduct your work as CDO outside of Mindshare and collaborate with other parts of the WPP GroupM family of media shops?
I'm sure I'll work closely together with other parts of the global organization along with other areas within Mindshare. It's all pieces of the same puzzle we're all trying to solve, which is mainly about how to drive utilization of the data assets that are available today and work to create better informational value.
So I'm not going to ignore the leverage that can be created by working with those other agencies within the group. But my remit is to make it happen for Mindshare, so obviously that's where my focus will be.
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