Doug Pearce
Nov 15, 2016

A higher seat at the media table

Guiding his agency into a single business unit structure, Doug Pearce, Greater China CEO at Omnicom Media Group, talks connected data, performance and competing with consultancies.

Single strategy: Connecting data points and having client leads are the way forward for Omnicom Media Group.
Single strategy: Connecting data points and having client leads are the way forward for Omnicom Media Group.

Omnicom Media Group (OMG) has put into place a strategy to capitalise on a “connected world of digital data”.

However, bringing this to bear in China has presented with a different set of challenges. While the likes of Facebook, Google and Yahoo share this vision of connected data underpinned by technology, and can replicate this through almost any market in the world, Doug Pearce, CEO of OMG Greater China admits that the Chinese media giant equivalents — such as Baidu and Tencent — are somewhat different.

“It’s about deepening partnerships and relationships with them and gaining their trust, which is a very important aspect when doing business in China,” explains Pearce. “It’s also a matter of what we can get, what we can access and what we can’t — we have to be consistent with privacy laws, for example.”

Such a situation means that OMG and its Chinese partners are very much on a level playing field — and they face the same task of learning quickly, but taking cautious steps at the same time.

In April, Omnicom Media Group launched two proprietary industry ad tech services to help clients better exploit data and produce what it terms cutting-edge marketing and effective development for brands. 

Annalect Data Cloud Services is aimed at giving marketers the right tools to target the right consumers, personalise their experience and measure the effectiveness of that engagement, while OMG’s programmatic trading platform maximises opportunities across publishers, campaigns and objectives. 

In practice, this connected world of data means that if you were looking to buy a car, you no longer face an onerous and long process — involving several visits to dealers among several competing brands, and then arranging finance over a period of a few weeks. With refinements in data and the technology, such processes are being speeded up — to the point that dealers and brands will know what you want before you’ve even taken a model for a test drive.

Pearce admits that this connected world of digital data is likely to result in the cost-per-thousand rates becoming more expensive, when set against cost per impact. However, he adds that overall expenditures are likely to fall as efficiency improves. 

“We are creating this eco-system of connected data insight and buying together in one — performance management is where we are heading,” Pearce says. “Clients want digital people, analysts and technology experts.” 

Single business units

The importance OMG’s leadership places on this data eco-system is a reflection of how the agency is moving towards a single business unit model. Over the last three to four years, OMG has focused on building specialist digital capabilities, in areas such as search, analytics and ecommerce.

Pearce says that such a model has proved very successful but adds that he wants to integrate these various disciplines within the agency, to present a single integrated solution. The more mainstream these disciplines become, the more they need to go back into the brand. 

Doug Pearce: Consultancy skills needed in advertising

“Clients want one person in charge — they don’t want five different business units,” adds Pearce. “As a result, we need to ensure that we are able to cover the entire spectrum of communication. We try to avoid terms such as ‘digital strategist’ — it’s all just strategy.” 

Having previously spent four years at Accenture, Pearce believes that consultancies will increasingly become their competitors, and that OMG needs to ensure it stays ahead with regards to data management, consulting and analytics. 

“We want to be seen to more consultancy based, more accountable and more measurable,” says Pearce. “Looking back at my time at Accenture, consulting companies have a higher seat at the table [than agencies].” 

Pearce believes that today’s advertising professionals need to have the right attitude and passion, be fully digital enabled and focussed on delivering improved performance outcomes for clients. “Connected data,” he adds, “will enable improved measurement of the campaign effectiveness and therefore evaluation of the work.

“We have an exciting future ahead, we are building an infrastructure; we have excellent partners and are now focused on upskilling and training our teams to maximize the opportunity to be the best we can be for our clients.”

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