Agencies don’t have much leverage in dealings with platforms like Google or Facebook if brands won’t back them up by pulling ad spend.
“You need a lion of a client to say, ‘We aren’t going to spend our money unless these circumstances are met,’ and make that change,” said Rob Norman, former global chief digital officer of WPP’s GroupM, which counts Unilever as its long-time largest client.
In the past year, Weed has staked out strong buy-side stances on brand safety, video ad serving, media transparency and social media influencer practices. He has also advocated for working with Google, Facebook and programmatic tech companies instead of reflexively turning campaigns on and off.
“We’re no longer talking about making the digital supply chain more efficient,” Weed said in February at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. “We’re talking about how it impacts society. There’s an underlying issue of trust and truth going on.”
CMOs often avoid difficult industry debates because they could interfere with the brand’s messaging or create tensions with partners and media sources, Cooper said. “But where other marketers are reluctant, Weed’s been willing to engage.”
Weed will still be active in the ad industry. In September, he became president of the Advertising Association, a British trade group, and on Twitter he hinted at plans to remain in digital marketing.
“It’s interesting to consider that Weed and Marc Pritchard (Procter & Gamble’s marketing chief, who’s been with P&G for 36 years) give the lie to this notion that CMO tenure now is 22 months or so,” Norman said. “If you think about the people who have greatly influenced the culture and craft of marketing, the ones who stay at a brand can be much more influential than those who danced from place to place.”