June 26, 2012
Big data, big clients — and someday soon, big mobile. Those are just a few of the items high on the priority list of Antony Young, who joined Mindshare as North American CEO nearly nine months ago.
Young also says the agency needs to do more work in the area of “discovery-based” communications, such as search and social. With a new platform emerging almost daily, he said, clients are hungry for advice on how to use them to best advantage.
“It’s really about choices,” said Young. Because most clients don’t have a need for — nor can they afford to use — all the media channels that are available, media selection is key, and meshing it all together in the most efficient way for individual clients is critical, he adds.
One of the “big bets” that Mindshare is making is that data management technology will help clients find answers quickly about consumer needs, behavior and the kinds of relationships they want to have with marketers. Ultimately, having that knowledge should boost client profits, which is what agencies are being increasingly called upon to do, Young said.
Just last week, Mindshare launched a new tech platform that it believes will advance clients’ ability to aggregate and massage massive amounts of data in ways that will sharply improve strategic planning and integrated communication capabilities.
Called Core, the platform was created with the help of a number of outside data and market research firms, including Acxiom and Nielsen. It’s an open-source, “always on” system that crunches media, pricing, consumer and client data including sales, supply chain and CRM stats.
According to Young, that platform and other data-related capability enhancements the shop is undertaking are “probably the most important piece of the puzzle for clients.” It contains all of the information required to finding links to improved results. “That’s huge,” he said. “That syncing up and marrying of media, consumer and business data can unlock a lot of business value for clients.”
Agency-client relationships are another key focus at the agency, said Young, who notes that in the time he has been at Mindshare, the CMOs or top-ranking marketing executives at 16 clients have changed. Keeping up with the new strategies and agendas of the shifting players is crucial.
Young made several reorganizational moves recently to ensure that the agency is keenly focused on clients and potential new business.
In May, Lee Doyle, a GroupM veteran and former CEO at sibling agency MEC, was appointed president of client development at Mindshare, a new position at the agency. Doyle will focus on multinational clients and seeing that the agency has the right resources and strategies in place at client teams. Doyle’s appointment, said Young, is a signal that “we really want to be engaged with clients at a more senior level and earlier in the planning stages.”
Staying “constantly fluid is a really important part of that,” added Young. “Especially when you look at the [management] changes at clients and shifting priorities as their own businesses change.”
In a related bid to stengthen client ties, the shop promoted Michael Epstein to president, strategic resources and client services. He is responsible for the management of new business, corporate communications, digital, multicultural and promotions. Epstein previously served as the lead on a number of key client accounts, including Unilever.
The potential of mobile is no longer a subject of debate, says Young. He believes society is headed toward a “mobile-dominated media world,” where tablets will almost supplant PCs. While he says agencies and clients alike probably aren’t moving fast enough to prepare for that eventuality, the agency made a move last week, forming a joint venture with Google, called “Mobile Garage.” It’s designed to educate companies about mobile technology and expedite their use of the medium in their marketing plans.
“Everyone is trying to catch up,” in the mobile sector, said Young, noting that 15% of Amazon.com transactions are now done via mobile, as are 20% of Google searches. “To me, that’s a pretty sharp signal that marketers and agencies are behind the eight ball and we need to get ahead of it.”