Gabey Goh
May 25, 2016

Grace Liau exits Publicis Groupe amidst Vivaki rebrand

SINGAPORE - Grace Liau has stepped down from her role as Vivaki’s general manager for Asia Pacific, with the Vivaki team in the region to be absorbed into Publicis Media’s data, technology and innovation practice.

Grace Liau
Grace Liau

It is understood that the search is underway for Liau’s replacement, with an announcement by Publicis Media expected soon. There are no other changes to the current Vivaki staff count while the Vivaki brand will be rebranded as the data, technology and innovation practice under the Publicis Media umbrella.

Publicis Media Asia Pacific declined to comment.

In a statement provided after queries from Campaign Asia-Pacific, Stephan Beringer, Publicis Media's global head of the data, technology and innovation practice (and former Vivaki head) called Liau “a very remarkable talent” and “someone who has helped us significantly accelerate our programmatic footprint in APAC across all key markets”.

He cited Liau as “instrumental” in helping launch Audience on Demand (AOD) as a part of the original Vivaki team, driving the adoption of programmatic by Publicis agencies across the APAC region and launching the region’s central activation centre in Singapore.

“We thank her for everything she has accomplished, in collaboration with our teams and agencies, and wish her the very best of luck in her future endeavours,” he added.

After 17 years with the network, Liau will be pursuing other opportunities outside Publicis Groupe, and is slated to relocate back to the United States. She first moved to Singapore in late 2014, to lead operations for Vivaki's AOD Activation Centre in Asia-Pacific.

Prior to this, she led the Platforms Partnership team and the Ad Operations Centre of Excellence (Ad Ops COE) for Vivaki. She also previously headed up the Media Operations & Technology practice for Digitas.

The rebrand marks another phase of an organisation-wide restructure of Publicis Groupe, which was first announced in December 2015. Since then, more details have emerged in stages as the network’s APAC operations begin reflecting changes made at the global level.

In March, Steve King, who was appointed head of Publicis Media, named regional chief executives to cover three key areas of the world and streamlined its media agencies into four global networks—Starcom and Mediavest Spark (which were both part of SMG) and Zenith and Optimedia Blue 449 (which have been formed out of ZenithOptimedia).

In April, Publicis Media’s Asia-Pacific CEO Gerry Boyle announced market leadership appointments in the Asia Pacific region, just over a week after Publicis One unveiled its own leadership roster.

At the time, Boyle told Campaign Asia-Pacific that it was “first important to establish local market leadership, the country CEOs, as they are going to be the people integrating the brands and practices.”

He added that the second stage will be focused on establishing how the new global practises will work in areas spanning content, performance, corporate development and communications, trading, technology and innovation, research, analytics and insights.

Greater China CEO Bertilla Teo was the first to name leads for the group's four agency brands under her purview, earlier this month. David Chen was named the managing director of the data, technology and innovation practise.

Until recently, it was unclear how Vivaki, the company’s programmatic and technology arm would fare, given earlier restructuring moves.

At the start of 2015, Vivaki underwent a restructuring exercise in the United States, which comprised a move away from the trading desk model and saw its ad traders, about 120 employees, reassigned out to individual Publicis agencies.

It was a move meant to bring ad tech talent closer to clients, while those remaining at Vivaki focus on training, research and development, data management and analytics.

In a prior interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific, Liau had shared that the Asia operations following suit with the move away from trading desks was considered, but because the digital advertising scene was still emerging, a more phased approach was adopted.

The initial plan for 2016 was to expand the rollout of the transition to more Asian markets, but of course, this was all before the global restructuring exercise was announced.


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