Once upon a time, media agencies saw tech platforms as competition.
Today, they simply cannot do their jobs without deep expertise and partnerships across a range of platforms, from social-media companies like Facebook and Twitter to marketing clouds like Adobe and Salesforce and, of course, Google, which dominates the digital ad ecosystem.
GroupM and parent WPP have been talking about strengthening their expertise in and around platforms since CEO Mark Read came on board in 2018. GroupM is doubling down on that with the promotion of Kieley Taylor to global head of partnerships and Amanda Grant to global head of social, GroupM services, the company said on Tuesday. Both roles are newly created.
Both will be tasked with implementing a cohesive strategy for GroupM’s agencies when working across tech platforms.
“There's so much opportunity for partnership from an investment perspective,” Taylor said. “We're trying to align a lot of different parts of our business behind this strategy.”
Developing a consistent approach to working with the platforms across GroupM not only creates better investment opportunities for clients, but allows the group to co-develop technology and create bespoke training programs for employees. GroupM can leverage its clout to unlock data opportunities as third-party cookies disappear, for example, or to build unique products for advertisers in specific verticals.
“We want to figure out that muscle memory with the platforms so they are clear on our clients’ goals and can bring us new opportunities faster,” Taylor said.
GroupM will also work with platforms to create digital training programs that go beyond broad-base certification courses and help employees grow their skill sets in specific categories. Training could focus on the top 10 most advanced buying teams, for example, which can take that intel back to the broader agency.
“It focuses on those who would benefit most from that training, and it forces the platforms to give us something specific and unique,” Grant said.
A cohesive platform strategy will also allow GroupM to prioritize overall needs across its agencies in different markets to make more impact across the group. It will also enable the group to collect best practices as platforms grow into new markets.
“Our strategy is to make sure we are being purposeful and focused,” Taylor said. “We will make more traction that way.”
Of course, working with the platforms involves a healthy balance of opportunities and challenges. GroupM has taken a strong stance on brand safety under EVP of global brand safety John Montgomery, and is a founding member of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media. Taylor will coordinate closely with colleagues who sit in on GARM meetings.
“I'm very hopeful that with more platforms signing onto GARM, we’ll continue to raise the floor from a brand safety perspective,” she said. “But I can't imagine that it will be done in 2021.”