Another Agency Reorg: MDC Media Partners Centralizes Its Programmatic, Search And Social Talent

MDC Partners is the latest holding company to place its programmatic, search and social talent into a team that spans across its media network, MDC Media Partners.

The group, which doesn’t have a name, was announced internally on Thursday and contains roughly 100 experts across biddable media and digital planning from agencies Assembly, Unique Influence and Varick.

Robert Gibbs, former head of performance at Assembly, will lead the new group as chief digital officer.

The goal of the reorg, which has been in the works for the past year, is to give MDC Media Partners’ clients access to all of the holding company’s digital talent. The new structure also centralizes MDC Media Partners’ digital talent across the same technology stack and best practices.

“It didn’t make sense for us to have pockets of expertise across the network,” said Michael Bassik, CEO of Assembly and MDC Media Partners.

The group will work closely with MDC’s CRM agency GALE Partners to connect its paid media capabilities with GALE’s homegrown customer data platform. (GALE and Assembly launched a network in July to bring data, technology and media resources closer together across the group.)

“Digital is where we see the most asks from clients across the spectrum of maturity,” Gibbs said. “Making that fluid across the group means we’re better equipped to service the client.”

MDC Media Partners formed the new group secretly for months in order not to disturb individual agency cultures. Centralizing the talent pool, however, lets MDC Media Partners hire a wider range of talent, rather than finding perfect fit for each agency.

That talent can also expand to new areas, rather than being limited to channel-specific expertise.

“We need to provide a place where people can actually grow,” Gibbs said. “There’s a real talent starvation of people who have learned something outside of one specific channel, partly because agencies haven’t made it available.”

As part of the reorg, Varick, MDC’s trading desk, will revert back to its previous management structure, where chief revenue officer Jay Wolff will oversee operations and report to Bassik.

MDC hired Paul Dolan as Varick’s first CEO in May 2018, but he was gone by August 2019, after a year of high employee turnover. Some of that talent, as well as newly hired programmatic talent, went to the centralized team, Bassik said.

Varick’s brand will continue and its focus, which is still on servicing midsize agencies, will now be on helping clients navigating investment across Facebook, Google and Amazon.

Other holding companies have already made similar organization decisions, as marketers turn away from trading desks.

Correction: This article previously said Jay Wolff reports to Robert Gibbs. He reports to Michael Bassik.

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