Communications firm Edelman has named Wavemaker vet Karima Zmerli, Ph.D. as global head of performance and predictive intelligence for its data and intelligence unit (DxI).
In the new role, Zmerli will lead performance and predictive intelligence globally and oversee media buying and marketing strategies for clients. She will be based in New York and report to Yannis Kotziagkiaouridis, global chief data and analytics officer of Edelman DxI.
The hire is part of Edelman’s effort to grow its media, data and technology capabilities as clients adapt to digital transformation and major changes to the media ecosystem, such as the loss of Apple’s IDFA mobile identifier and third-party cookies phasing out.
“[Building trust among consumers] requires a new way of thinking that has data and technology at its core,” Kotziagkiaouridis said. “Covid has accelerated and amplified the adoption of technology and data, [which] creates more data, but at the same time, there is more regulation.”
Zmerli joins Edelman from the media agency world, as chief data sciences officer at GroupM’s Wavemaker since 2016, where she helped generate over $1 billion in new business. She joined Edelman to help clients adapt to new use cases for data and technology as privacy becomes top of mind.
“We have to open our horizons and think about the consumer relationship with the brand differently than in a transactional way,” Zmerli said. “Edelman is in a very unique position to understand consumer trust in corporations and brands, a fundamental element to brand strategy and communication.”
Zmerli is Edelman’s latest hire in a bid to bolster its research and data capabilities, with talent across data science, engineering, software development and performance marketing. Most recently, the firm hired David Bartram Shaw as SVP and global head of data science; Anjuli Bedi as global head of behavioral science and psychometrics; Tim Hwang as global head of product; Jacob Loban as EVP and US head of performance intelligence; and Matt Sato as EVP.
Edelman’s data practice has 399 people globally, with 76 added since July. The firm declined to share revenue for the practice, but noted DxI has seen double digit growth in the “high teens” over the past year.
In the coming months, DxI expects to release new media buying and data software products, but Kotziagkiaouridis and Zmerli declined to go into more detail.