Wunderman President Jamie Gallo On The Convergence Of CRM And Media

jamie-galloAs WPP’s direct marketing agency, Wunderman began collecting data about individual consumers before it was the currency of the digital world.

“Data was the lifeline of this place to begin with,” said Wunderman’s New York president, Jamie Gallo. “It was very pedestrian and primal data, but it was what the agency was built on.”

As marketing evolved, so has Wunderman – from collecting data on individual consumers through direct mail and 1-800 numbers to activating digital CRM data through paid media channels.

As the lines between CRM and paid media blur, Wunderman is making a play as the “agency of the future,” which is characterized as an integrated creative and media agency with strong data chops. Even so, reaching that right consumer with the right message in today’s world of fragmented channels is harder than ever.

“The fundamentals are the same, but the tools are much more advanced,” Gallo said.

Gallo, formerly CMO of the National Basketball Association, spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: How closely does Wunderman work with GroupM agencies?  

JAMIE GALLO: We’re a creative agency with consumer behavioral data, and we’re the largest holder of data versus any other holding company. With GroupM, the assets line up. We have a proprietary DMP called Zipline. We house data there and give it to a media company like Xaxis to deploy campaigns. We continually integrate projects and initiatives to make the data come together in a much more powerful way. We cross-breed it so what we can do with it is even more advanced.

What does behavioral data allow you to do versus media data?

Behavioral data is reality. It’s more transactional. The information results in an action versus a view, click or download. If you sit in a focus group and ask someone a question, they might answer because they think that’s what you want to hear. Looking at data you can see what actually happened.

How are you integrating that data into your creative process?

Our strategic process is the collision of data and creativity. At every table is a data scientist, a strategist, an account person and a creative. We have 225 million consumer profiles in the US. We have an email, cookie, social handle, physical address – something that we can use to anonymously identify you and deliver one-to-one at scale. Data reframes the truth around the problem. It helps creatives understand why they’re making what they’re making and how it can be more powerful and relevant. You’re never going to take the guesswork out of marketing altogether, but we try to eliminate as much as possible.

A lot of creative now is a behavioral science project where you piece things together on who the user is. Our focus has always been on ideas. Our insights are becoming richer, more fact-based and more human. It’s still very artful.

Do you work with media agencies from other holding companies? Is there ever a conflict of interest there?

Clients expect you to play across their spectrum of agencies. If it’s a Team WPP model, there’s a single P&L for that cross-agency team, so it’s very transparent. Everyone knows what the scope is and how they play with one another. If it’s an outside agency, I might compete for that work. If Wunderman can do something better, I wouldn’t hold back.

How are the worlds of CRM and media converging?

They are going to come together faster than we think. CRM is going to be driven in some part by Facebook through bots and artificial intelligence. Instead of building our own databases and CRM systems, we’ll use the social platforms.

Right now Facebook won’t share [data], but eventually there will be too much money and pressure not to. [Social] channels will overlap with paid channels because those are sometimes the same exact thing. If [Facebook] Messenger is now your email channel instead of Gmail, you’re playing in a social space surrounded by paid ads. The convergence is real. Eventually, we’re going to be in the media business.

How important is getting data from walled gardens like Facebook in connecting CRM to paid media? 

Data is the currency now, and the more you can protect your currency, the more differentiated you’re going to be. Martin Sorrell has always referred to the social and media platforms as frenemies. There’s overlap at points. We always try to push to see what we can get on behalf of our clients.

There’s still no real relationship between the creative agencies and the social platforms because the money isn’t spent with creative. The leverage is with the spender, not with the creator.

Can ads become too hypertargeted?

No one in this agency would say mass reach is never needed. Any time you overextend yourself and devalue the customer experience, you are doing your brand a disservice.

How does one-to-one marketing get more difficult as new platforms like Snapchat emerge?

One-to-one marketing is only good if you can achieve scale. It’s still the challenge, and it gets harder every day because it’s more and more diffused. We’re not a boutique agency, we’re not doing high-touch, high-brow marketing. We are a communications company with gigantic brands.

Having been a CMO and an agency exec, how do you see agencies and marketers working together to modernize a brand? 

Being an agency is hard right now. You want to be a partner. You want to get deep into a client’s business because that’s best way to provide value. To be on the outside looking in, you’ll never provide real value.

Marketing is a service function within a client organization. Clients are hiring people that are more duplicative with agency talent, especially on the data and insights side. They look at us and ask, “Are we competitive with them?” If they look at us as a partner, we’ll add value.

What’s the No. 1 challenge CMOs face today?

If you asked me that question a year or two ago, it was speed. There wasn’t the desire or will to invest in growth. Today I think there’s a little bit more of an eye toward value and growth. Now, people sometimes try to boil the ocean instead of doing something really well.

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