Jessica Heygate
May 4, 2023

GroupM forms commerce unit under Nexus performance hub

Media investment company aims to standardize its commerce capabilities across markets and develop technology to help clients navigate an increasingly fragmented marketplace.

GroupM Nexus Commerce will be led by Samantha Bukowski. (Photo credit: GroupM)
GroupM Nexus Commerce will be led by Samantha Bukowski. (Photo credit: GroupM)

GroupM has formed a commerce unit within its Nexus performance organization with the aim of helping its media agencies deliver more consistent commerce services and navigate fragmented measurement.

The unit, GroupM Nexus Commerce, will be led by Samantha Bukowski, who has overseen GroupM’s global commerce strategy for the past 18 months. Bukowski was formerly the commerce lead at GroupM agency Wavemaker and worked brand-side helping to manage the e-commerce operations of Bed Bath & Beyond and Newell Brands.

Bukowski has bore witness to commerce’s evolution from a “niche add-on” to a core part of media plans. She said it is now a substantial enough revenue generator to require a central resource that ensures GroupM agencies are delivering consistent quality.

“We’re operating at such a scale now that it became really important for us to operationalize it [commerce] in a way that delivered consistency in how we bring the capability to market, and made sure that it was connected to everything else we were doing in performance and brand media,” she said in an interview with Campaign US.

GroupM estimates e-commerce accounted for 19% of global retail sales in 2022, up from 18% the prior year. It is forecast to grow to 25% by 2027. The agency network also said spend on retail media ballooned 15% to $101 billion last year, and it is expected to reach $160 billion in annual revenue in five years’ time. 

GroupM Nexus Commerce will act as a single point of commerce intelligence for the network’s agencies, enveloping strategy, media activation, creative and data and technology across retail, direct-to-consumer and social commerce.

The unit will establish standardized frameworks and operating models for different commerce functions, which agencies can then localize for their specific markets.

It will also develop proprietary technology to compare the performance of different commerce platforms.

Bukowski said consistent measurement is “one of the biggest pain points for our clients” due to the fragmentation of commerce.

“There's still a lot of inconsistency in attribution models and the technology that's enabling this work,” she said. 

“Even in a market such as the U.S., we have brands who are operating with 30 retail media networks in a single market. Then you look to somewhere such as Europe, where there's so much difference in the individual markets and it's so inherently local — the fragmentation there is a whole different ball game,” she added.

GroupM Nexus Commerce will contain dedicated staffers and draw on the expertise of employees at EssenceMediacom, Mindshare and Wavemaker. Bukowski did not share specific employee numbers, but said no one was being pulled over from an agency. The unit is currently advertising three senior New York-based roles: a manager of commerce activation, manager of commerce strategy and associate director of commerce strategy.

Bukowski said the unification of capabilities should not be seen as an efficiency drive.

“We're definitely not consolidating [the amount of staff working in commerce],” she explained. “We think about Nexus as this unified performance engine. That engine is then put into the vehicles that are the agencies — they're still the go-to-market, the ones that maintain those intimate relationships with the client.”

GroupM reportedly conducted a series of layoffs in January months after a broad restructure led to the merging of some services and agencies, including Essence and Mediacom, Digiday reported. GroupM Nexus was formed from the merging of programmatic specialist Xaxis, addressable TV firm Finecast and AI solution Copilot. 

Housing the commerce unit under Nexus was an intentional move to embed commerce into performance media plans, rather than treat it as a separate speciality.

“We see the way media is moving overall is everything is all about connectivity and holistic performance and holistic measurement,” she said. “So it felt backwards and a little counterintuitive to stand something up that would be so distinct that you run the risk of it being siphoned off from the rest of what we're doing in performance.” 


Campaign US

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