Media Agency Review

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2021 Big Bets: Publicis

The big bets" that Publicis is making for 2021 include focusing on Publicis Sapient and Epsilon for future growth, shifting towards shared services strategy with the "Power of One" initiative, and driving US governance strategy implementation with two executive leadership infrastructures. These and other strategies have been discussed below.

Recent Thought Leadership

Recent Marketing Efforts

  • In Q3 2020, the company signed new contracts and extensions with Renault, TikTok, Nestle, GSK, BT Group, Premier Inn, Kraft Heinz, and Reckitt Benckiser.
  • In October 2020, Française des Jeux (FDJ) signed a multi-million euro advertising contract with Publicis Media for media buying, planning, coverage, and creative strategies. Additionally, the E.ON energy group appointed a Publicis Groupe as its media partner for eight European markets.
  • In January 2020, a press release was published about the Publicis Groupe Verified-certification process. It featured industry-leading standards that Publicis Media vendors are required to adhere to brand safety, consumer privacy, and client data protection across video, mobile, display, and social media.

New Hires

  • Publicis group invested about €100 million in talent, hired 150 top executives, and promoted 100 leaders internally. Further, the group plans to deliver a €500 million cost reduction plan in 2020.
  • In April 2020, Justin Billingsley was promoted as the new Global Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for Publicis Groupe.
  • In June 2019, John Maeda was appointed the Chief Experience Officer of Publicis Sapient, the digital business transformation hub of Publicis Groupe.
  • In January 2019, Matt James was appointed as Global Brand President for Zenith. Matt joined the organization under the leadership of Steve King, CEO, Publicis Media,

Partnership Strategy

  • In 2019, Publicis acquired Epsilon for $4.4 billion. The company reported a growth of +9.3% with Epsilon, reflecting a shift in revenue profile.
  • In 2019, the group acquired Xebia, Soft Computing, and Rauxa. Alternatively, the group sold its units under Publicis Health Solutions (PHS) to Altamont Capital Partners (Altamont).

Quarterly Earnings Reports and Filings

  • The group's ambition for the coming years is to achieve an operating margin rate of 17%, supported by new revenue sources and simplification of the group's structure.
  • In Q3 2020, the group's production activity, programmatic digital media, and Publicis Health segment achieved double-digit growth in the US.
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2021 Big Bets: WPP

The big bets" that WPP is making for 2021 include: partnering with tech companies, shifting towards resource-driven revenue models and bring the company back to positive sales growth. These and other strategies have been discussed below.

1. Recent Thought Leadership

2. Recent Marketing Efforts

  • Mark Read, the CEO of WPP, says to the press about the company: "Our foundations today are much firmer than they were two years ago. We are simpler. Our balance sheet is in better shape." He also says that the company has combined tech expertise with its traditional creative strength and gone ahead to become the single biggest integrator of Adobe's software, building e-commerce platforms for clients like Sainsbury’s. According to Mr. Read, the company's goal is "to be to revenue growth what Accenture is to cost reduction."
  • Mr. Read emphasized on his reputation of acquiring ad business from tech groups. Google is the company's second-biggest client and WPP is Google's largest single revenue source. Moreover, earlier this year, WPP won an Uber pitch.
  • He also said that in 2019, WPP's billings on Amazon, Facebook and Google grew by 15% to over $10 billion, and this is a growth driver for the company's business. His main emphasis is that the company's worst declines in ad spending are in the past and "a strong rebound that would bring WPP back to positive sales growth" and match it with its rivals is expected next year.

3. New Hires at varying levels of seniority

4. Partnership Strategy

  • According to the CEO of WPP, the company "has rediscovered its appetite for acquisitions" as they seek to repair their finances and also repackage themselves for the digital age. The company wants to focus on acquisitions in areas that will provide something distinct, differentiate their offer, and bring them scale.
  • Due to the fact that tech companies are important for WPP's turnaround plan, the company is opening a San Francisco campus to better serve clients like Amazon, Google and Facebook. This move, expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2021, will enable WPP's agencies to partner with tech platforms and help clients to "deal with technology-disrupted markets" as they also get access to potential clients.

5. Quarterly earnings reports and filings

Research Strategy

After thoroughly reviewing various industry reports, reliable news sites, and the company website, we were not able to find publicly available information on the big bets" is WPP making for 2021, for media agencies in particular.

The research team searched for related reports in news sites and industry-related sites such as Financial Times, PR Week, The Drum, Business Insider, Ad Week and Best Media Info, among others. Although we found information on the company's 2021 strategies in general, there was only limited information on their media agencies. However, due to the fact that they mentioned media and communications in a lot of their overall strategies, we have included their overall strategies and assumed that these also apply to their media agencies. We have presented our findings above.
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2021 Big Bets: Dentsu Group

Part of Dentsu Group's "big bets" for 2021 around its media agencies includes its goal to operate under the CRM, media, and creative business lines in order to future-proof its business. It also seeks to swiftly leverage brand-new services and technologies obtained through the successful integration of acquired businesses which it views as being crucial to its M&A.

Recent Thought Leadership

  • The Dentsu Group recently transitioned to a brand-new business model, helping to diminish complexity. Dentsu's CRM, media, and creative business lines have been developed around the requirements/needs of the company's clients, assuring that these clients succeed and retain and expand their most prominent customers via being ideas-led, data-driven, and tech-enabled.
  • Dentsu Aegis Network is restructuring its media segment to wholly align the company's programmatic abilities and scale its data solutions and proprietary technology better. The move enables Dentsu Aegis Network's media offer to operate strategically as a single holistic, tech-enabled and data-led solution that has "identity and analytics at its core."
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dentsu launched dentsu Pulse, which assembles the most up-to-date actionable insights, information, and thinking from the group's network to assist marketers in managing marketplace shifts, disruptive consumers, and media.
  • Dentsu Aegis Network is a part of Dentsu Inc., and it consists of ten global network trademarks, namely Merkle, Carat, iProspect, Posterscope, MKTG, Vizeum, mcgarrybowen, Isobar, Dentsu, and Dentsu X. They offer first-rate knowledge and abilities in digital, media, and creative communications services.

Recent Marketing Efforts

  • In September 2020, Merkle introduced a new B2B group, named Merkle B2B, that provides media, data, creatives, and insights and consists of five B2B companies, namely Merkle, Merkle | DWA, gyro, B2B International, and Digital Pi. Merkle B2B incorporates strategic integration that supplies brand activation and creation at a global scale, effectively making it simpler "for marketers to enable end-to-end business marketing solutions." This group will assemble more than a thousand media gurus, innovators, artists, technologists, and data scientists with experience serving B2B clients.

New Hires

  • In April 2020, Dentsu Aegis Network appointed Wendy Clark as its global chief executive officer (CEO), strengthening the company's mission to provide integrated solutions that are tech-enabled and data-driven.
  • In March 2020, Christina Mohebbi was promoted to the chief programmatic officer position at Dentsu Aegis Network, and Akash Jairath and Nathan Carver took over the chief data officer and chief technology officer positions respectively.
  • In December 2019, Jacki Kelley, who has extensive experience in agency and media, was appointed to serve as the CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network's operations in the Americas.
  • On August 20, 2020, Christena Pyle was named the chief equity officer of Dentsu Aegis Network's operations in the Americas.
  • Merkle, a global performance marketing firm that became a part of the Dentsu Aegis Network in 2016, appointed Craig Dempster to act as its global CEO on April 22, 2020.
  • MKTG, a global lifestyle marketing firm that is a member of the Dentsu Aegis Network, named Victoria Azarian the chief creative officer of its U.S. division on February 10, 2020.
  • On May 9, 2019, Dentsu Aegis Network reorganized its media management crew in the United States. Michael Law was promoted to President of Amplifi, while Andy Donchin became its chairman. Lucas Cridland was named the chief operating officer of DAN Media, U.S.

Partnership Strategy

  • On November 14, 2019, Dentsu Aegis Network partnered with the media and advertising program from Plug and Play, helping to expose Dentsu to more than 10,000 startups in 15 nations. Through this partnership, Dentsu Aegis Network concentrates on collaborating with other partners in the areas of an accelerator program, corporate innovation, and co-investment.
  • In Q3 2019, MuteSix, a direct-to-consumer marketing firm and a direct response advertiser on Facebook, joined Dentsu in the Americas.
  • Three separate acquisitions were signed in Q1 FY 2020, with all of these acquisitions being "aligned to the Merkle brand and CRM Line of Business in the Americas." These included Media Storm, an independent data-driven audience targeting and planning firm, as well as Digital Pi, which is a digital marketing agency specializing in marketing automation consulting for the B2B market.
  • Dentsu perceives acquisitions as contributions to its sustainable growth in media as they drive scale, supply geographic infill, and add brand-new capabilities. It believes that its capacity to effectively integrate acquired companies is vital to its success in M&A. The company states business integrations that are successful permits it "to leverage new technologies and offerings across the firm quickly, benefiting our clients, our people and our shareholders."

Quarterly Earnings Reports and Filings

  • According to its Q3 FY2019 Consolidated Financial Results report, Dentsu recently streamlined and consolidated its services around its CRM, media, and creative business lines to future-proof its business and assist its clients more adequately. The report also states that the company intends to operate under the CRM, media, and creative business lines by the year 2021.
  • Dentsu Aegis Network reported continued strength for the Americas, especially for the market in the United States. There was 8% organic growth in the Americas for September 2019 (2.4% for Q4 2019), and the US market recorded double digit organic growth due to exceptional growth at Vizeum, Merkle, Carat, and Dentsu X.
  • In Q1 FY 2020, Dentsu Aegis Network recorded 1.2% organic growth in the Americas, with the market in the United States experiencing 2.2% organic growth. Merkle's growth was listed as being "in the high single digits."
  • For H1 FY 2020, organic revenue declined by 8.3% for the Dentsu Aegis Network in the Americas, with the U.S. market recording an organic revenue decrease of 6.9%. However, several brands in the region witnessed a rise in media spend from numerous clients at the conclusion of Q2 2020.

Research Strategy:

During our research, we were unable to identify significant information regarding any "big bets" that Dentsu Group is making for 2021 around its media agencies in the North American region. For this particular information, we carefully scoured through its official sites and various brands' websites, including the corporate website. Unfortunately, we could not identify anything that could serve as a "big bet" for the year 2021, although we did discover several new hires at the senior and executive levels throughout the Dentsu Group.

We also searched for recently published press releases and articles released by both Dentsu and other sources, such as PRNewswire and the Wall Street Journal, among many others. While we came across information on new hires, reorganization efforts, and new partnerships, we were still unable to locate any sources pointing to Dentsu's "big bets" for 2021 for its media agencies.

Furthermore, the company's official consolidated reports and filings briefly discussed its new business model involving its media, CRM, and creative business lines and organic growth and revenues in the Americas and the United States, but the company did not go into in-depth detail regarding its "big bets" for 2021.
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2021 Big Bets: Horizon Media

According to the President of Horizon Next, "data insights and audience targeting capabilities" are the highlights of the company's services.
The company also partnered with hip-hop celebrity Pitbull to establish 305 Worldwide, a multicultural marketing agency. This move is part of Horizon's plan to put its investments in "full-service marketing capabilities." The rest of the company's future plans were presented below.

Recent Thought Leadership

  • On its website, Horizon Media mentioned that "diversity, equity, and inclusion" is their DNA.
  • The company also highlighted its commitment to being an inclusive organization by ensuring that its workplace and culture mirrors the diversity of its employees.
  • It also aims to nurture a culture where all its staff has the same level of training and promotions opportunity.
  • The company also wants to ensure that its diverse organization are well-taken cared off, valued, and strengthened to bring out their true selves.
  • According to the President of Horizon Next, "data insights and audience targeting capabilities" are the highlights of the company's services.
  • Horizon Media recently established a new data intelligence business called Night Market."
  • Night Market was formed to provide its clients with unique intelligence information into the buying habits of consumers of Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
  • The company aims to provide brands with extraordinary control of the consumer's online buying journey. Through these insights, Night Market can help brands to formulate a comprehensive campaign strategy with their technology providers to increase their revenue in this space.
  • Night Market will also integrate some previously "stand-alone" functions such as "consulting, performance media, and retail optimization."
  • According to Randy Browning, the company's President, Night Market's goal is to be its client's important collaborator in generating "net new revenue."
  • According to the Chief Digital Officer of Horizon Media and the Co-Founder of Night Market, generating insights from an "AI-powered data strategy and platform" to manage the tail end of the consumer experience is a unique offering that they are excited to share with their clients.
  • Night Market can consolidate data and learning from various platforms to provide brands with more understanding of their end-to-end ecommerce strategy.
  • Night Market aims to provide a top of the line service in the areas of "promotions, merchandising, content, reviews and pricing." The company will lean into the "media expertise, scale, and proprietary business intelligence platforms of Horizon.
  • Night Market's involves drafting retail, media, and data strategies, as well as giving its clients "audit capabilities, technology, and partner planning."
  • The company will focus on helping its clients to achieve their business targets.
  • Horizon Media has also been busy in building new businesses and adding more service offerings that are all structured to help its clients reach their target business results, sales, and ROI faster.
  • The company recently established Big, a new agency with a complete "performance-based compensation model" that is tailored for startups, digital stores, and rising performance brands." With this model, Horizon believes that it is positioning the company to become an authentic, and reliable partner for these businesses.
  • The primary service of Big will involve comprehensive data management. The company will also offer its clients personalized access to "brand strategy, consumer insights, trend analysis, social listening, customer journey mapping, channel planning, strategic media investment across all channels, SEO consulting, programmatic buying, content marketing, brand health, path to conversion analysis, reporting, and analytics."
  • The company is also confident that Big's unique compensation model mirrors a real commitment to the success of the clients. This type of model is also expected to be a clear indicator of Big's influence in the industry as it deploys its innovative strategies.
  • According to the company, Big will support Horizon's ongoing expansion into uncharted crucial markets as it proceeds to increase its market share.

Recent Marketing Efforts

  • On its Twitter account, Horizon's Night Market business mentioned about its approach on omni-commerce and its goal of knowing more about the data of consumers in "walled gardens."
  • The company also highlighted the beginning of its service contract with the Jenny Craig company as it aims to rapidly grow the business of the latter.
  • It also mentioned about CBS' transfer of its media planning and buying business from OMD to Horizon Media.

New Hires

  • Horizon Media recently recruited AI Leader Randy Browning to be the President of Night Market, Horizon Media's data intelligence commerce division.
  • The company also recruited Sandra Alfaro and appointed her as the EVP Managing Partner of 305 Worldwide, its recently formed multiicultural marketing agency.
  • Night Market, Horizon's newly formed business recently hired Kimberly Chulis to be the organization's data scientist.

Partnership Strategy

Quarterly earnings reports and filings

  • No quarterly earnings report was found for Horizon Media as it is a privately-held company. It is then not required to file quarterly earnings reports.

Research Strategy

To determine the "big bets" that Horizon Media is making for 2021, specifically around their media agencies, we looked through the company's website, press releases, articles, social media platforms, and other similar sources. However, we were not able to find specific mentions of its "big bets" for 2021. What we found were the company's mention of the recent addition to its business, overall strategies, new hires, and partnerships.
We also looked through various marketing and media publications such as the Adage, Martech, the Drum, and other similar sources. However, we were able to find only general statements on the company's strategies and plans and not specific future plans.
We also search interview or survey excerpts from company executives but we were not able to find the company "big bets" for 2021.

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