WPP just announced a big shake-up at its giant ad-buying network, GroupM
Category : entrepreneur
- WPP has restructured its most valuable property, the media-buying network GroupM, as the holding company giant fights industry headwinds.
- GroupM global CEO Christian Juhl laid out the changes in an internal memo sent on November 15.
- The ad-tech division mPlatform will merge with 2Sixty, which was part of Juhl’s former agency Essence. Juhl also promoted several allies to global leadership roles.
- A source at GroupM said parent company WPP was reshaping GroupM in the image of Essence, Google’s longtime digital agency of record.
- The memo also said GroupM would soon launch a separate business to help clients take their media work in-house.
- These moves are in keeping with WPP’s ongoing effort to simplify its offerings to clients.
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WPP has restructured its most valuable property, the media-buying network GroupM, as the holding-company giant fights headwinds facing its business.
GroupM global CEO Christian Juhl merged mPlatform, the global suite of tech and data services launched in 2016, with 2Sixty, a software company that grew out of the digital agency Essence. Juhl ran that business before WPP CEO Mark Read picked him to lead GroupM this summer.
Juhl also promoted several executives to global leadership roles and hinted at a new business to help clients take their media-buying work in-house as more advertisers are sidestepping agencies.
These developments followed the recent news, first reported by Business Insider, that GroupM had parted ways with North American CEO Tim Castree after less than one year.
A new leader makes his mark on WPP’s most valuable network
A high-level source at GroupM told Business Insider that Juhl was reshaping the organization in the image of Essence, Google’s longtime digital agency.
Another source, a media-agency executive with knowledge of GroupM’s business, said Juhl was chosen for the CEO role because of his former agency’s innovative work for Google.
Juhl also promoted some of his allies to key leadership roles.
Essence cofounder Andrew Shebbeare, who worked closely with Juhl on the Google account, was named GroupM’s acting chief technology officer and tasked with joining 2Sixty with mPlatform, which primarily deals in audience targeting data drawn from sources like Facebook and AT&T’s Xandr.
The two organizations will share leadership and a new, yet-to-be-determined name.
WPP’s primary goal here, as with the ongoing consolidation of its Wunderman Thompson network, is to simplify its offerings for clients. The GroupM insider called mPlatform a “mishmash” of services that lacked clear direction, suggesting that WPP now has an opportunity to better define itself.
“Centralization is key,” Shebbeare said. “The more data we feed into the machine, the smarter it gets.”
Shebbeare also said data privacy laws like the General Data Protection Regulation led GroupM to place less emphasis on mPlatform, which was initially pitched to clients as an alternative to Google and Facebook.
Turning a sprawling network into ‘one agency with many brains’
Juhl promoted former mPlatform CEOs Brian Gleason and Colin Barlow to GroupM global chief commercial officer and president of the new tech services division, respectively — moves, according to the former media executive source, that show GroupM is trying to operate as one agency rather than multiple brands that can turn into fiefdoms.
According the internal memo seen by Business Insider, GroupM will also roll out a new business to help clients bring more media planning and buying work in-house, an attempt to retain business from clients who want more control over their marketing budgets. Parent company WPP has similarly built “embedded” divisions on the creative side.
A GroupM spokesperson declined to elaborate.
The reorganization won’t affect Xaxis, a programmatic trading desk that is one of the most important parts of GroupM’s tech offering.