When Publicis Media launched a practice combining commerce and media a few weeks ago, it tapped former EMEA commerce and innovation head Ali Nehme to lead the group globally.
Like Publicis’ programmatic and data, technology and innovation practices, the commerce practice centralizes research, technology and innovation for the holding company agencies, who work directly with brands. Practitioners from the ecommerce group are part of client teams.
Commerce is an area clients increasingly need guidance on, Nehme said. Ecommerce sales reached $2.3 trillion dollars last year, up almost 29% year-on-year, according to eMarketer.
“Commerce is the way you’re going to drive the business moving forward,” he said.
Prior to this role, Nehme was chief strategy officer for Publicis Media in the Middle East and head of performance marketing in EMEA for the now defunct VivaKi.
He spoke with AdExchanger.
AdExchanger: Why did you launch a global commerce practice?
ALI NEHME: We’re a big organization. If you want to be an expert in a certain skill, you need to incubate it in a way where you're speeding up that knowledge but also [creating] a center of excellence.
We productize everything and package it in a way that all of the [agency] brands can apply to client portfolios. The plan is to centralize the products we build. If the product [helps clients] plan better on ecommerce, we create that and house it for other clients. Then the media agencies apply it to their knowledge and activate on it.
So what exactly does your team do?
Our job is to enable and support with expertise, strategy, data, relationships and tools. If a client from a CPG or food is asking about the future of that category is from an ecommerce perspective, they’re going to get all of that knowledge from us. All of our commerce talent is sitting in the agencies. Their job is to activate based on the client’s needs.
What kind of tools are you building? Are you building them from scratch or white-labeling?
We started building technology in-house because it’s desperately needed. Most of media is automated. Having commerce not automated doesn’t make sense. I can’t say specifics, but we’re creating tools around the consumer journey and we’ll link them together. Brands will access them as a platform to better inform their decision making.
How were Publicis’ commerce functions set up before, and how will you unify them?
There was a lot of commerce work for clients in pockets across the network. It was a lot of case work directed at Sapient, but not really elsewhere. It was not a centralized product.
If you want global commerce updates and to deliver on a global scale, you need it to be more uniform and you need a way to access it. Internally, you need it to be a centralized product. That’s why we decided to create a practice where everybody can tap into it as opposed to just doing it per market, per client.
How do you help your clients approach Amazon?
Amazon is one of our biggest partners. But there are other places online to grow, and other partners, like the Walmarts of the world, that in absolute numbers are much bigger than Amazon.
We focus more on the technology and product side. We’re trying to integrate with them better and get updates to the clients faster. The relationship is getting much deeper and way beyond media. We’re trying to optimize all channels in an ecosystem where media, commerce and content intersect.
We recently released a product that integrates into Amazon’s API to optimize media. I get access to more data when I can optimize on the platform. The end game is how can I sell more product online and get Amazon help us wherever they can?
This interview has been condensed.