IPG’s vision to form a media holding company under IPG Mediabrands is now showing some tangible benefits for the company. Apart from cornering wins such as Amazon (won by IPG Mediabrands’ agency Initiative), the media holding company has seen growth in its top 10 clients, that according to the IPG Mediabrands’ Chief Executive Matt Seiler, is coming on the back of its structure, right leadership and growth from additional services such as digital, search, social and marketing services Cadreon.
IPG Mediabrands had seen the formation of a unique structure under the leadership of Matt Seiler three years back. Markets were rearranged not to represent geography alone but also to acknowledge similar growth characteristics of a market and bring them together. The focus on value added services such as digital deepened in a bid to form better connect between media owners and marketers, with the objective of presenting breakthrough solutions for IPG Mediabrands’ clients.
Another phase of restructuring was seen earlier this year when Jacki Kelley (then CEO of UM) was given the charge of IPG Mediabrands North America and Global Clients and Jim Hytner (then CEO of Initiative) was mandated with growing IPG Mediabrands in what the company has defined as its G-14 markets. G-14 signifies growth markets that continue to see substantial investment from the agency, as Mediabrands prioritises these for data capture and analytics. The Asia Pacific markets in G-14 include Australia, China, India and Japan.
The recent phase of restructuring has enabled the company to unify all its P&Ls (profit and loss) under IPG Mediabrands, hence allowing the leadership of operating companies – BPN, Initiative and UM – to completely focus on the agency product. According to Seiler, this has made significant impact on the agency products and has played a key role in the agency securing new businesses.
Enhanced focus on the product
Some may argue that the new structure takes focus away from the agencies and places it on Mediabrands. Seiler clarified that the restructuring attempted, and achieved, the opposite. “With all the P&Ls coming under Mediabrands, the operating brands no longer have that responsibility. This allowed us to put leaders such as Jim Elms (Global CEO – Initiative) and Daryl Lee (Global CEO – UM) who come with very rounded communication background and are essentially strategy people, at the helm of these agencies. The products have improved massively due to their thought leadership. There is amplified focus on content, process, product, tools without the P&L and buying,” said Seiler.
The other advantage was the elimination of duplication for disciplines such as content, search, social and so on that were being developed at a central level and at an agency level. At the same time, IPG Mediabrands has been able to avoid conflicts that can be seen in media holding companies, where the programmatic buying teams are either fighting with the regular buying teams or not communicating with each other at all.
With the restructuring, IPG Mediabrands has also been able to take some of its assets such as the recently acquired Interactive Avenue in India and equip them to be hubs for the region. Five such hubs are in place globally that align with Mediabrand’s mindset of growing from distribution to content, product and distribution.
Seiler divulged that one of the most tangible results was seen in second quarter numbers of IPG, when Western Europe was looking better for Mediabrands than it did for the rest of the group. Seiler reflected, “When you wake up every morning as a European leader, and all you have to look at are the dreary European numbers with little chance for improvement, then it is a self-fulfilling prophecy – it looks like it would be bad and it is going to be bad. If on the other hand, you have some of those key markets and also some of the growing markets, then you have best practices that get shared with markets that wouldn’t have reason for optimism. Our numbers are much more positive because of the optimist view that the leadership has taken and the sharing of best practices.”
The growth that the company has seen in its top 10 clients is another statistic for IPG Mediabrands to indicate that the company is on the right route.