Accuen Chief Megan Pagliuca Joins Hearts & Science To Set A Programmatic Vision

Megan Pagliuca, former boss of Omnicom-owned Accuen, has become the first-ever chief data officer of Hearts & Science, where she will lead the agency’s charge toward identity-based media buying.

Pagliuca will oversee Hearts & Science’s tools and strategy that will put individual identities at the center of not just media execution, but brand strategy and planning.

“Programmatic’s role has been very downstream,” Pagliuca said. “We’re taking it upstream, closer to the strategy and the brand. Targeting on a one-to-one basis is becoming a reality in digital.”

Under Pagliuca, Accuen transitioned from being a standalone unit to a more integrated identity within Omnicom’s media agencies, as OMD programmatic, PHD programmatic and Hearts & Science programmatic. Accuen continues to exist as a platform and a center of excellence within Omnicom Group.

Despite the advent of programmatic, the media world is still heavily IO-based, and Hearts & Science founder and CEO Scott Hagedorn said it’s time for that to change: “We think it’s time to flip the script to identity as the main currency.”

Pagliuca and Hagedorn spoke with AdExchanger about the new role, in which Pagliuca will work across clients to oversee 250 employees.

AdExchanger: Why does Hearts & Science need a chief data officer?

SCOTT HAGEDORN: Last year we implemented an inventory graph, almost a SKU-level database including fraud, viewability and cost data, for our clients. On the activation side, we’ve implemented a lot of private and guaranteed marketplaces.

Now programmatic needs an identity-based planning approach. Media is going toward a combination of identity and inventory. Megan is coming over to develop a viewpoint around identity-based programmatic.

How is this a change in Hearts & Science’s programmatic strategy?

MEGAN PAGLIUCA: Insights, forecasting and sizing needs to be part of the planning and strategy process, rather than a downstream component of the investment process.

Hearts was founded on the belief that CRM is meeting addressable channels. We’ve been talking about that for many years on a cookie-based basis, which isn’t one-to-one in the same way as identity-based marketing. This is the future of planning, measurement and targeting in all media channels.

What’s first on your list of priorities? 

PAGLIUCA: Shifting our model to ensure that programmatic is upstream in the process and we’re starting with that ID. I’m operationalizing that, working with our clients to make it a reality and ensuring a larger percentage of the media we buy is bought on an identity and data-informed basis.

How are you getting identity data at scale?

HAGEDORN: We’ve been using Neustar’s ID graph and augmenting it through Annalect. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, AT&T and Verizon offer components of it. But we want a capability and strategy across walled gardens we can use as our planning currency.

PAGLIUCA: I think about it on a brand level. Increasingly more brands have their own ID graphs we’ve been augmenting and developing.

We used to think all data was going to be accessible through a data management platform [DMP]. That’s not how the world has evolved. We’re working with the marketer to bring their DMP together with insights from Facebook, Google and Amazon in one view. We’re looking at [that] from strategic level for planning and bringing it to execution.

What are you building to make this a reality? 

HAGEDORN: Annalect is working on a universal identifier which will roll out here soon. We’re looking at a combination of ID graphs to launch that. We built a technology that creates data lakes for clients so they can have all their data in one place for reporting and modeling.

We’re rebuilding our planning tools and updating our reach and allocation tools. We used normative response curves for media-mix modeling for years. We’re taking our research and adjusting those curves. We share them with our clients so they understand how we weigh them.

We’re going to live in a world where we’re projecting using panel-based data for TV, out-of-home and radio as we increasingly leverage ID-based currencies [for digital]. We have to find a balance of the two.

When will those two worlds converge?

PAGLIUCA: There are phases. I don’t think we get to a world where we’re operating fully on identities for a long time. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t in the meantime change how we’re allocating budget.

Because of the systems we have in place, we’re overallocating budgets to TV rather than where people are spending time, like on connected TVs and mobile video. That’s a broader industry problem that’s a critical priority for us to fix. It will take some time.

How are you thinking about identity-based buying in linear channels like TV?

HAGEDORN: Increasingly our business is a combination of services and infrastructure. Probably a quarter of our agency resources are specialized in marketing technology. They’re solving for how to serve and measure across OTT platforms.

What happens to Accuen?

PAGLIUCA: Last summer we made some changes to how we operate. Accuen is now a platform and center of excellence and we’re integrating the teams within the agencies.

This interview has been edited.

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