Dentsu Aegis Network acquires majority stake in SA experiential marketing agency

Dentsu Aegis Network has acquired a majority stake in Crimson Room Communications, one of South Africa’s leading experiential marketing and promotions agencies which delivers market-leading, creative below-the-line solutions.

crimson room

Established in 2005 by Philippa Viljoen, Crimson Room Communications offers a range of experiential marketing services from strategy development and concept ideation, events management, promotions, public relations and brand activation to execution of the brand experience across a multitude of consumer touch points.  Crimson Room Communications prides itself in delivering top quality service and creativity without compromise.

In line with Dentsu Aegis Network’s ongoing investment into the African market, Crimson Room Communications will over time be integrated into Posterscope, establishing psLIVE in South Africa. Crimson Room Communications will continue to be led by founder Philippa Viljoen, whose expertise has seen this company’s success and expansion grow year on year.

Dawn Rowlands, CEO Dentsu Aegis Network Sub-Saharan Africa said: “Dentsu Aegis Network is fully focused on growing psLIVE globally so we are thrilled to have the opportunity to acquire Crimson Room as it will further enhance psLIVE and our ambition of Innovating the way brands are built for our clients.”

Philippa Viljoen, Owner of Crimson Room Communications, said: “I am excited about what we can achieve together and for the fantastic opportunities ahead for both our clients and employees. Our partnership will allow us to provide a broader product offering to our clients and leverage global best practice.

“Crimson Room will continue to serve its clients with the commitment to integrity and excellence that has been built over the years and now with the support and drive of a global partner. We are committed to building on our best-in-class experiential solutions to create the most compelling and comprehensive offering for both current and new customers. I look to the future with great optimism.”

Craig Page-Lee, Group Managing Director Posterscope Sub-Saharan African said: “Crimson Room is an excellent strategic fit with Posterscope’s South African business as we continue to drive the specialist nature of the Out-of-Home, which includes ambient and experiential advertising as well as shopper marketing. Adding this strong proposition to our business will ensure that we provide clients with an end-to-end, one-stop solution to their entire BTL requirements, or in other words, allows our clients to own the entire consumer journey across a multitude of touch points when consumers are out-of-home. I am excited at the prospect of engaging the market with the amazing Crimson Room team as we seek out new opportunities.”



African success – Lwandile Qokweni, Managing Director Carat, JHB

The fostering of an entrepreneurial spirit throughout Africa as well as individuals will be one of the key reasons why/why not Africa develops to its full potential. In such a way, we share today the success story of Lwandile Qokweni; lwandile

Lwandile comes from a creative agency background, having worked as a communication strategist at FCB and Ogilvy & Mather. Since having joined Carat in 2010, he has worked as a senior media strategist and Business Unit Head for Carat in Johannesburg, where he ran accounts such as Old Mutual, iWyze, Just Fun Group and Cell C Retail.

Following which, he was Carat’s sub-Saharan media manager, in which he was tasked with servicing and growing top-end clients such as Proctor & Gamble (West Africa), MTN Ghana, Coca-Cola (Kenya and BLNS – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland) and Nokia sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, he maintained strong partner agency relationships in these countries.

Lwandile was appointed Managing Director of Carat Johannesburg in May 2013.


Click HERE to listen to Lwandile in conversation with


Dentsu Aegis Network enters into joint venture with Media Fuse in Nigeria

Dentsu Aegis Network today announces that it has entered into a joint venture agreement in Nigeria with full-service media agency Media Fuse Ltd. In line with Dentsu Aegis Network’s expansion plans and ongoing investment into the African market, Media Fuse will operate as Media Fuse Dentsu Aegis Network, joining the strong network of Dentsu Aegis Network brands in Sub-Saharan Africa: Carat, iProspect, Isobar, Posterscope and Vizeum.

Media Fuse Dentsu Aegis Network will be led by Media Fuse’s CEO, Emeka Okeke, an expert on Africa’s converging media and digital landscape, having worked extensively across the West African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, Cote D’ Ivoire, Sierra-Leone, Gambia and Liberia.

Emeka and his team of twenty-five specialists bring to the partnership a known market reputation, passion for the industry and a vision to grow clients’ brands locally and now internationally through the partnership with Dentsu Aegis Network. Established associations between Media Fuse and the Carat-Adams affiliates in Ghana and Senegal, as well as relationships with key Dentsu Aegis Network global clients, highlights the immediate strengths and opportunities of the new partnership.

”I have worked alongside Emeka for five years and value his drive, integrity and ability to attract and build a great team around him. I have no doubt that this joint venture will create a powerhouse in West Africa for the Dentsu Aegis Network” said Dawn Rowlands, CEO Dentsu Aegis Network Sub-Saharan Africa.

“With its buoyant economy and the largest population and consumer market in Africa, Nigeria offers great growth potential and business opportunities for Dentsu Aegis and our clients. This investment further expands our reach into the Nigerian market and strengthens our business and capability in the region”, continued Nigel Morris, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Americas and EMEA.

“With this development, Nigeria and indeed the West Africa sub-region is set for fresh impetus in brand building and communication experience with global access to tested tools, capacity building processes and the fiscal discipline that the Dentsu Aegis Network is known for on the global stage. I am also excited at the opportunity for the development of new skill sets and career prospects that this joint venture will unleash in the market place going forward” said Emeka Okeke, CEO Media Fuse Dentsu Aegis Network.

With Nigeria’s economic growth predicted at approximately 7% per year and the digital and media landscape increasing by an estimated 15% in 2014 alone, Dentsu Aegis Network recognises the opportunities available in this market and is excited to enter into a joint venture with a local partner who shares Dentsu Aegis Network’s business ethos of innovating the way brands are built.

As a full-service media group, Media Fuse offers and ensures that clients are at the cutting edge of integrated communication planning; digital media creative and production; search and display ad optimisation; social/community media management; media data planning and implementation and effective out-of-home strategy, planning and buying.


Digital marketing that’s thriving | Craig Page-Lee

The focus of this piece is to discuss the amazing campaign work being delivered by the Heineken brand and the role that digital is playing in driving brand awareness and product engagement.

The current campaign focused around the concept of “Open Your City” which gets consumers to explore the city they are in and share the discoveries. The campaign moves from just listing establishments where Heineken is sold or available, but more about a heightened sensory experience of the inner city.   beer1

Link to campaign:

This is a great build on some of the previous social media led campaigns delivered by the brand and again shifts the focus from the beer, or the product, to the beer drinker, or consumer. The conversation will also focus on the power of social media and putting the consumer at the heart of testimonial based messaging and story-telling:

1) Heineken has initiated a social media challenge around the streets of Amsterdam and through Facebook in order to connect local and global communities.

The ‘Meet the World in One City’ campaign two men from the UK and the Netherlands, who will spend two weeks dedicated to the challenge of meeting people from 194 different nationalities on the Streets of Amsterdam.
People are also able to contact the pair, Barnaby and Mick, through a dedicated website in order to achieve their challenge.

2) Heineken has created a new social tool on Twitter as the next phase of its global Cities of The World campaign, which has seen the beer and cider brewer omit its own brand name to provide ‘more credibility’.

The @wherenext platform has been designed to help consumers “unlock the secrets of their city” by providing restaurant, café and bar suggestions based on their location. It uses a unique algorithm that listens to social media activity, such as tweets, check-ins and photos across Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare and analyses which locations are trending. beer2

The user needs to tweet ‘@wherenext’ with their location and the service will respond with a variety of options and a link to a mobile-responsive website, containing reviews and images.

3) Heineken and Metro have teamed up to launch a six-month integrated campaign for the beer and city producer’s Open Your City marketing push.

The campaign, called London Unlocked, will see the brands produce a new double-page spread each Monday from 14 July, which will be a guide to events and experiences in London that week in a bid to ‘entice’ London audiences to get out and explore the events and locations that London offers.

TV, national outdoor and press, sponsorship, digital, PR as well as a limited edition bottles, form part of the campaign, along with a ‘London Unlocked’ hub on Metro’s website, which will house weekly, sharable content around the same theme.

4) This month Heineken is also teaming up with Everyman and Street Food to open Battersea Power Station for a seven-week outdoor cinema and street food event at the Battersea Pop-Up Park until 31 August  beer3

 Click HERE to listen Craig Page-Lee, MD of  Posterscope SA in discussion with






Augmented reality makes shopping more personal | Craig Page-Lee

A new mobile application from IBM Research helps both consumers and retailers…

cpl on air

Scientists at IBM Research – Haifa are looking to bring all the benefits of online shopping into traditional, brick-and-mortar stores and are creating a new augmented reality mobile shopping application (app) that will give in-store shoppers instant product details and promotions through their mobile devices.

We ask ourselves WHY?

  • in-store shopping accounts for 92% of retail volume1, BUT consumers are expecting the same levels of personalization and customization that they do when they shop online;
  • 58% of consumers want to get in-store product information
  • 19% of consumers are already browsing their mobile devices while in-store

The new app from IBM Research will:
Provide shoppers with a personalized shopping experience with immediate product comparisons and special offers as they move throughout the store:

  • It captures images via the built-in video camera on a user’s smart phone or tablet and uses advanced image processing technologies to quickly and accurately identify a product or row of items.
  • Once the application recognizes the products, it will display information above the product images and rank them based on a number of criteria, such as price and nutritional value.
  • It will also provide the shopper with any loyalty rewards or incentives that may apply and suggest complementary items based on what the customer has already viewed. cpl1

For example, a shopper looking for breakfast cereal could specify they want a brand low in sugar, highly rated by consumers and on sale.

  • As the shopper pans the mobile device’s video camera across a shelf of cereal boxes, the augmented reality shopping app will reveal which cereals meet the criteria and also provide a same-day coupon to entice the shopper to make a purchase. While the app will allow shoppers to be more informed about products, it will also help retailers to better connect with their in-store customers.
  • Using the personal information provided by their customers as they move throughout the store, marketers could receive a great deal of insight on the preferences of their shoppers, as well as which areas of the store see the most traffic.
  • Using this information, retailers could better organize their store and adjust business practices accordingly. cpl2

According to IBM’s head of Retail Research, Sima Nadler, the differences between online shopping and in-store shopping will start to merge. “What we’re seeing is the blurring of the physical and the virtual.”

  • In the past, shoppers were classified by broad demographics, but soon they will be able to engage in an augmented reality shopping experience that is customized, and lets them take advantage of deals and special offers related to products that they likely need.
  • By providing in-store shoppers with the same kind of personalized information that online shoppers receive, retailers can now harness Big Data in order to cater to each individual on a more personal level and transform marketing into a convenient and welcomed service for consumers. cpl3

So who is actually doing this and what can we learn?

Craig Page-Lee, MD Posterscope SA in conversation | Click HERE to listen





Is TV still the main medium for viewing football? Andile Qokweni – Business Unit Head – Carat

Those who know me well will know that I’m a Manchester United fan and I’m a media strategist by trade. andile

I’m combining my two passions to try to get an understanding of whether Television is still the main medium for viewing football… To do that let’s get into the psyche of a football supporter:
It’s been very easy to support Manchester United since the start of the Premier League era as they’ve been very successful, so much so that it’s become more trendy over the years to ‘love to hate’ the club. You’ll see as you read the piece that this is a word that appears regularly because as people that’s what we tend to do, follow what everyone else is doing.
So in the early to mid-90’s it was trendy to support Manchester United and that’s how they built up a global following of millions. If we go back 12 months, the club had just secured a record 20th English Premier League title and that signalled the end of a dynasty, Sir Alex Ferguson had finally decided to retire.


As with anything trending, you’re always going to have people who adopt it quickly, like most social networks, after which, you’ll get those people who catch on because the influencers have given it a positive recommendation.
In terms of audiences, football – if you didn’t already know- is huge in Africa and the English Premier League has a very large, very loyal following.

In South Africa, by standards of any country who deem themselves die hard followers of the sport of football, we have a very poor match attendance culture, which helps to explain to some degree the appetite for the overseas content.
We prefer to sit at home or have friends over for major sports events. The anomaly of course being the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted in this country, but as mentioned this is not the norm.

In general we just do not go to live football games in South Africa; a possible reason for this is that the fans of the English/European football have a high expectation for the general quality of the football they watch, one which can’t often be met by South African clubs (or the national team to be honest).

Exceptions such as the Soweto derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates do occur, but then again those two clubs have the largest fan base in the country.
According to Supersport and AMPS, football is the most watched sport in the country with the English Premier League reaching over 40 million South Africans (All Adults 15+) over the space of a 10 month season.

If we look at the data, you will see on the graph below that 2012/2013 season had higher total viewership for the selected Manchester United fixtures, whilst in 2013/2014 the audience declined by 18%.


It’s easy to deduce that people simply lose interest in Manchester United.
Manchester United lost 10 of their first 31 league matches; they were knocked out of domestic cups early. Hence the interest from a fan perspective will have subsided more so than in seasons when the club was chasing trophies.

The peak in April 2014 will have been caused by the fact that David Moyes was eventually relieved of his duties and club legends Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt were installed in his place as a temporary solution until the end of the season.


The CEO of the English Premier League has even admitted that the popularity of English Football will decline if Manchester United doesn’t recover from last season’s slump.
Having said that remember, I mentioned that this is not specific to sport or football, it’s just the way trends work: MXiT was once the main mass market instant messaging application but has since been overtaken by newer more user friendly options like Whatsapp.
So the TV data says audience numbers have declined, fair enough but what I can categorically state is that in New Media, Manchester United have never “trended” the way that they have in the past 12 months: I can still remember one of the comments on the article confirming David Moyes as the new Manchester United manager – “MOYES OUT!”..


He hadn’t even taken up his new role yet. By the end of 2013 Manchester United and David Moyes had become the laughing stock of social media. Some post match reports on popular sites such as The would reach over 1 000 comments, within an hour! This became “the trend” of the season.

As much as the TV audience figures locally may have declined, they only declined by 18% and one can hypothesis that all of those people who had become tired of watching Manchester United winning everything watched in their droves to see the slow and televised decline of a global superpower, it made for good TV if you weren’t a Manchester United supporter.


Further to that, in light of the way that new media works these days, television is definitely not the medium it once was.

In South Africa, PVR and the prominence of network providers with uncapped data options has made it very easy to get content of any variety online through and thereby changing viewership behavior.

In the context of football an example of this is live streaming and even something as simple as a ‘’Minute By Minute’’, ‘’Live Match Report’’ on mobi-sites or website. We all know that today’s consumers especially the younger audiences are constantly on the move, so media needs to adapt to account for this and many touch points and platforms have done exactly this.
We know that young consumers are on different devices (TV, PC/Tablet/Smartphone) at the same time and this is a perfect example of how they can work together. They’re reading a report, whilst streaming the game, whilst tweeting and retweeting but engagement and interactivity is the key insight here. One MBM (Minuted By Minute) that immediately jumps to mind as a case study is the Manchester United vs. Fulham below:


So audiences are shifting to new media spaces (Facebook, Twitter, IM, Instagram) and here it’s clear to see that the Manchester United audience grew astronomically, which is in converse of what’s happening on our local TV’s.

Most of it was negative but ultimately it was publicity and regardless of a poor 12 months in terms of results, it still remains one of the biggest clubs globally.



Many of the partners who have aligned themselves to the brand to grow their own brand equity need not worry.

Closer to home for me, Chevrolet have recently taken up a 500 Million Pound sponsorship and internally alarm bells may have started ringing as results became worse week on week.

The club will continue to be in the public’s eye so I strongly think General Motors’ investment is safe with a brand like Manchester United, even during their worst season in decades they continued to be the topic of conversation in touch points that allow for exactly that – conversation.
Interestingly, the English Premier League as part of their content offering has an interactive TV show called Fan-Zone that’s broadcast out of the UK but a relatively conservative estimate would suggest that at least 50% of the people who either email, Skype or call-in come from Africa and at least 50% of that would be South African.


Therefore it is my opinion that globally the trend is that consumers are increasingly switching from traditional modes of sport consumption to new media touch points that allow for them to voice their opinions.

Television still has a role to play in less developed markets like Africa and South Africa and even in developed markets broadcasters are following consumer trends by providing platforms where consumers can voice their opinions.

Local advertisers who have always focused on television can rest in the knowledge that the audiences are still there, they just need to follow consumer trends and understand that viewership behavior is changing, content and engagement has become the key.

To listen to Andile in conversation with media – click here



FORBES chats to iProspect Global President Ben Wood | #Bruce Rogers

On the occassion of the 2014 Creativity Festival in Cannes, I caught up with the Global President of iProspect Ben Wood on his perspective of the changing search agency landscape and how his agency is evolving as one of the Dentsu Aegis agency brands…
Bruce Rogers: Tell me about iProspect and your new role as Global President. How is the agency expanding beyond search?

Ben Wood: I think about three simple services: customer insight, content creation and content amplification. It’s reassuring to me that we’ve always been brilliant as a global media company at understanding consumers, really understanding what motivates those consumers and trying to get into the intent as to why those consumers are searching for what they’re searching for. You can’t fill a content pipeline without really understanding how that content is going to resonate, motivate and engage with the receiver. It’s good old-fashioned account planning.


ben woodBen Wood, Global President, iProspect


Then you have content creation which again is a whole new space for us–having the skill sets in house to create at scale digital assets for our clients that will help engage with consumers and therefore drive digital performance. Let’s imagine we have a travel plan, like grappling with wanting fresh content for some hotels that are advertising in Portugal.


For that plan they might want for us to send a video crew over to Portugal to create some unique footage of those hotels. At the other end of the spectrum you might have an e-commerce client who has 25,000 SKUs they’re selling on a web site and every three months they might just need new product descriptions for all of those items because they want to keep them fresh and they want to keep them different from the competition.


In the middle you might have a B2B brand that’s looking to create engaging and exciting white papers to try to bring to life a particular proposition. It’s a fairly broad spectrum of delivery of content. I don’t think for a second I’m talking about the kind of high creativity that you find in R/GA or the major creative agency. I’m talking about a more factory-like production.

Rogers: Is it more akin to what traditionally was called contract publishing?

Wood: Yes. Companies used to be able to create a magazine for their customers and prospects. Now they were going on a journey toward trying to be more digital. So the skill sets that we’re looking for in the origination space is about strategy and insight. But in the creation space it really is about employing journalists. It’s about employing editors, journalists, writers, graphic designers.It’s about having this exciting mix of different talent that can suddenly help us create content at scale.

The third area is content amplification and that’s equally important. Once we’ve built the right content, we need to amplify it and get it out there. What’s interesting for us is we cluster our services around what we call the owned, earned and bought media concept. All of our traditional services and expertise in bought media like search can help amplify content. We’ve paid for distribution of the content through native advertising; plus you’re using your client’s assets, web sites, blogs and apps to distribute that content through their own channels.

And then in the earned arena, we’re leveraging social through blogger outreach, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter– whatever it might be. We’re helping our clients leverage those channels to push content out in such a way that engage consumers. And if you do those three things together brilliantly, ultimately what you’re starting to see is the delivery of digital performance, which is what’s at the heart of our proposition. What’s different about our approach at iProspect is that everything we do is underpinned by a rigor in terms of what the output is being delivered. I think that’s the biggest challenge for more traditional creative businesses as they move into the space.

Rogers: Right.

Wood: When it comes to how do we build into this content great analytics? How do we optimize content? How do we create a program so that we use data to personalize that content in such a way that it becomes incredibly motivating to a consumer in a particular place in time? Those are the elements that comprise this new content space. Those are the places where that most people struggle with because we’re not talking about static content. We’re talking about content which is fluid and is bespoke for particular individuals knowing what we know about where they are at a particular buying journey.

Rogers: Are you leveraging the network? Is that part of the advantage of being part of the Dentsu Aegis holding company?

Wood: That’s a good question. We have what we think is a pretty unique approach to servicing our clients, which is that rather than our agency brands racking up globally they’re lined-up locally. So a U.S.-based client can work with iProspect, Carat or any other agency brand in the Dentsu Aegis network they all report into the person who ultimately owns the P & L for the U.S. Whereas in other agency holding groups, what you find is that each brand has its own global reporting structure. So as the global president of iProspect, I’m not that obsessed about who does what in any particular country. What I’m obsessed about is the products, the services and the vision for the services iProspect provides. As a result, we can build cross-brand solutions with clients in a way that other agencies can’t.

For iProspect, for example, there’s a lot of very smart tools within Carat that helps with consumer insights. We have a tool called CCS (Consumer Connections Study) which interviews between 10,000 and 20,000 people in 60 markets around the world and helps us understand those consumers’ consumption habits, their motivations, their lifestyles, and their media consumption. It’s a bit like TGI or MRI. It’s a study into how consumers behave, how they consume media.


That’s an amazing place to start when it comes to content origination. And that’s not a bad place to go when you’re thinking about amplifying content and when you thinking about the channels and what you need to amplify content. We can leverage some of Carat’s smartsto help us with content development. Then at the other end of the spectrum we’re talking about one of the world’s biggest global creative agencies in Dentsu. We also have amplifiers through our global trading business.

I’m not sure publishers have quite yet realized the potential revenue in creating content for brands. As brands go on a journey to being storytellers, and realize they need to find new ways or narratives about consumers There is such a huge opportunity for the world’s biggest and best and most personal kind of publishing companies. So in the UK a business like IPC or EMAP are starting to create that content for brands. They’ve got reams of journalists and fantastic libraries of images and video. And they’ve got the talent to create the content. So we can start to leverage the Dentsu Aegis network relationships with those publishers in such a way that then they’re going help us with this content and then distribute that content. I think publishers are going to be incredibly important as we think about how we build out this proposition.

Rogers: I call it the journalist re-employment act. You can’t wake up one day and be a storyteller if you’re creating spreadsheets on advertising performance. So what’s your journey to getting here? What’s your personal vision for where you want to take iProspect?

Wood: I’ve been talking with Aegis for some time. Ten years ago I was with Carat Digital. It was right before Carat realized everything was going digital. I ran Carat Digital business for 12 very happy years back in the early 2000s when there was explosive growth in the category. Having established Carat’s Digital business, I went to establish the digital business for Vizeum and did the same for them. I know the culture and the way that those two companies worked.

I was in the UK and there was a small business in the UK that doesn’t exist anymore a business called Diffiniti, a digital start up that we acquired. They needed a bit of reinvention I think. It was one of those companies that had done well by being a digital specialist and the big agencies weren’t very good at digital. Suddenly it found itself in a place where big agencies got good at digital and they’d probably do it cheaper.


Their clients all had legacy relationships with big media companies. Clearly it wasn’t going to evolve as a continuing proposition. So I joined Diffiniti and very quickly saw that there was an opportunity to take the iProspect brand out of the U.S.

This was about five or six years ago. I re-launched Diffiniti as IProspect and started to trade under a slightly different proposition which was this digital performance proposition, which sufficiently differentiated us and started to get some traction. What was really important is that this is the thing that has created the momentum and the traction for our iProspect globally to grow into one of the biggest search firms in the world. What’s given us the traction is the a while back when we failed to establish the business outside of the U.S., we created an operating model which set up all of the search marketing for Carat and Vizeum clients to be managed by iProspect. So we created an internal marketplace but gave the business immediate scale.

So from day one in the UK we launched iPropsect and upgraded every client that Carat andVizeum had for all of their search.

Rogers: So iProspect became the defacto search agency for every client in the network.

Wood: We become the internal specialist agency and instantly gave us scale everywhere.

Rogers: Are you number one in search?

Wood: Globally yes.

Rogers: That’s what I thought.

Wood: We applied that template globally and that has left a crazy ride for five or six years. At the end of it, I’ve kind of tumbled out as the global face of the brand. I’d say that’s kind the end of chapter one. It’s been really exciting. Everybody likes to work in a fast-growing environment.

I think chapter two though is even more exciting. We now need to change. We’ve got to evolve. I’m really excited about the opportunity from my business to start to create emotive content – content that is emotionally engaged with consumers. We’ve been brilliant at harnessing consumer intent. So really that’s going to be stage two. But the other thing about that second stage of our evolution, which is important, is that we’ve also been a business that has ultimately played at the bottom of the funnel. So it’s not a bad place to play. We need to help out customers become more sophisticated about overall marketing effectiveness.

Rogers: You are referring to having a greater understanding of consumer intent beyond last click activity?

Wood: I think as we drive that stage we will be champions of a more sophisticated approach. What it means is that if you’re optimizing digital advertising to a business outcome you can’t just optimize the bottom of the funnel. You have to optimize throughout the funnel. So we’re going to need to build a much more full funneled proposition as ultimately marketers will become more sophisticated.

Rogers: Partly what I see, and I don’t know if you see the same thing, is that in the beginning clients knew nothing about search. They had to go to folks like iProspect. That’s how the business started. I now see that a lot of those services are being brought in house as clients increasingly want to own their own data. How do you play when those basic services get moved in house?

Wood: First I would say it’s much more up front in the U.S. than elsewhere in the world. That’s not to say that I don’t think it will localize as a trend, but for now it’s specifically U.S. Look at companies like Expedia. It’s all in house. Some of the big travel aggravators have also brought it in house. It’s definitely a trend and I completely agree with your assertion that clients are thinking increasingly about data.

We’ll see clients coming to us and saying “We’re going to win the data. We’re going to win it together to go choose the technology. We’re going to have you guys manage it.” And actually doing it that way it’s pretty transparent. Everybody’s happy. But I do think there are implicit challenges for clients around scale and resources. Then there are challenges around measurement across channels, including mobile.

Rogers: Are you helping folks on that journey?

Wood: Yes. We spend time with the guys that have been here forever like Microsoft. They’re the ones thinking about it. They’re offering Windows free of charge now on mobile devices as they start to distribute their assets across device. Because it’s through those assets that they’re going to be able to create a single view of the consumer. I think Facebook is going to do it well. Facebook is doing smart stuff in terms of how they’re fusing web and offline data. They’re doing a lot of work around fusing customer databases into their back office which is smart. I think it’s going to be fascinating to see how that goes.

But we are completely agnostic about technology. We will simply look at our clients’ business objectives, make some recommendations about the media channels they flag, what content they need, and what technology we utilize to build that out. We think that’s the best place for us to be, especially as things are changing so fast. We need to be the experts in selecting the technology and the data in cases so when they approach you just run through the plan. I don’t think we want to be in a place where we own a DMP, a DSP, or an ad server. We’re a media agency. We’re not very good at investing in stuff.

Rogers: Those who do go down that route will wind up competing against Google

Wood: Yes and then you can’t. Google seems to be quite happy not to compete with us in the agency space.

Rogers: True, now. Might that change?

Wood: They don’t fancy the business. Let’s be honest.

Rogers: Why, because they can’t make enough money?

Wood: I think for them it’s messy and there’s not enough margin in it. Google is a data driven business and they’ll do whatever is right for them.

Rogers: They’ll just live wherever data lives.


Wood: Yes and their decision’s are completely unemotional.

Rogers: They are amazing.

Wood: Then there’s Facebook. For a long time they were obsessed about keeping people in their ecosystem. So it was all about run ads, drive people to the page where you engage them . What they’ve realized actually is that they can just use that data to build this huge performance advertising solution. So we’re leaning in quite heavily to Facebook. We think it could be big.

Rogers: And they’re starting to share that knowledge with you?

Wood: Yes, we love Facebook. I think that they’ve invested significantly in the resource that they place around agency and agency relationships and we have a good relationship with Facebook. And they’re smart enough to know that they need to lead into our organizations in different ways.

Rogers: Thank you for the overview. Good luck with phase two of iProspect’s evolution.
Wood: Thank you.
This article was published by Forbes (online) -