The Digiday Podcast is a weekly show on the big stories and issues that matter to brands, agencies and publishers as they transition to the digital age.
From Cannes: Jellyfish CEO Rob Pierre believes in prioritizing platform partners as much as clients
In the final installment of the Digiday Podcast from the 2022 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, I was joined by Rob Pierre, the irrepressible CEO and co-founder of Jellyfish, a network of agencies and marketing services that specialize in digital work and transformation.
Pierre distinguishes Jellyfish's operating philosophy from the agency holding companies on a two key levels. For one, Jellyfish operates off one single P&L — no regions, no divisions — and for another, the network prioritizes the major platforms as importantly as it does its clients.
"It sort of started with us thinking that we would love our clients to treat us like partners, not vendors. And, of course, if that's what we would like for us, you know, we can't treat our vendors any differently," said Pierre, who started Jellyfish in 2005. "And then it became apparent that if they're both partners, why would you treat them any differently? ... So yeah, I actually think our business turned around when we decided, as an example, to treat Google like our best client."
New forms of connecting with consumers have gotten Pierre's, and consequently Jellyfish's, attention, and he said he wants to be sure to put in the work to figure out how and when to reach them. "If advertising is the monetization of attention .. it's much harder to grab someone's attention because it's so disparate," he said. "It's on so many different platforms on different devices for very short periods of time. So, but where are people going to spend? Where are the eyeballs going to be in the future? [W]e're thinking the metaverse is one of them."
From Cannes: IPG's data chief Arun Kumar wishes there was a Hippocratic oath for marketers
The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is well underway, as the crowds along the Croisette clearly indicate. But a lot of the action, and heady conversations, are also taking place in the suites and conference rooms of the big hotels that dot the main boulevard of Cannes -- not to mention in the yachts parked in the Vielle Port alongside the Palais where Cannes content and awards are taking place.
I was fortunate to have one of those conversations with Arun Kumar, chief data & marketing technology officer for IPG, who's also CEO of IPG's marketing intelligence engine Kinesso, who was my guest on the latest installment of the Digiday Podcast. He's essentially the principal data architect for the entire holding company.
Kumar is an outspoken defender of marketers' right to gather data on consumers in ethical ways, and is a big believer that now is the moment for marketers, agencies and ad-tech companies to speak up before further privacy legislation is crafted that could limit or hamper the ability to understand consumer patterns. His concern is that, without input from the industry, legislators will craft rules promoted mostly by privacy advocates.
"As an industry we've let ourselves down by not being present at the table," said Kumar, who thinks there should be national standards for privacy rules. "What the marketing industry has done is stood up, and basically put its head over the parapet, got itself shot at, and not done anything to disabuse anyone of those notions [of abuse of data] ... We've now conflated cookies with privacy."
If only the marketing world had devised some sort of Hippocratic oath at the outset of the digital era, the industry wouldn't have come under the degree of scrutiny it is getting from legislators. He looked to the medical world as an example to be emulated, where all doctors are held to the fundamental ethical base of do no harm, which influences all their actions.
"One of the places we should look forward to is medicine," said Kumar. "No matter where you go in medicine, no matter what you discover, there are certain ethics surrounding it, which come from the principles [the Hippocratic oath]. We as an industry ... have not aligned on what those principles are, we're asking ill-prepared legislators and bureaucrats to solve the problem, and the reality is when you step into the metaverse or other places ... there is going to be more data exhaust that comes out of that."
From Cannes: Forrester's Joanna O'Connell on fraud, data, walled gardens and networking again
The Digiday podcast this week is coming to you live from the Cannes Lions, where the media, marketing, ad tech and creative worlds have come together for the first time in person in two years.
The guest for today's podcast is Joanna O'Connell, vp and principal analyst with Forrester Research, who offered an unvarnished view of the ills of the industry while crediting some corners of ad tech for trying to make things better.
"In the 25 years of digital advertising, innovation has outpaced thoughtful, methodical, careful assessment of what could be done versus what should be done," said O'Connell, sitting in the lobby of the famed Martinez hotel at the far end of the Croisette, the main boulevard that links all major hotels to the Palais (where Cannes-Lions-sanctioned content is held).
"There's a lot happening that's shining a light on what we do that gives us a moment, or should give us a moment, of pause," added O'Connell. "And I say this to the biggest brands and to the biggest media platforms in the world because it is their responsibility, ultimately, to be shepherds of great experiences for consumers."
O'Connell also address the flood of new tech innovations that create "a lot of noise," the causes of continued fraud in the industry, what the walled gardens may face from brands, and why the idea of consumers ultimately owning data is a much more nuanced issue than it appears.
From Cannes: PHD's Philippa Brown on transforming the media agency to serve clients more effectively
Welcome to the Cannes Lions, which is meeting in-person for the first time since 2019. This week is going to be equal parts exhausting and exhilirating. Although the Lions celebrate all of advertising, the media agency world has taken more of a center-stage position in recent years.
"Rather than just talking about servicing our clients and understanding our clients' business, what we're really doing more about and talking more about now is how we can help them in their journey of transformation, and I think that has been the thing that I've really seen the language shift over the years," said Brown, a 15-year veteran of Omnicom.
Brown addressed the realities of dealing with scope creep from clients, citing the need to be straightforward and honest when having those discussions. "We need to be paid fairly ... More and more clients today realize they're asking a lot of us, and realize that we're not a charity -- that we do need to pay our people fairly and also have a return for our shareholders like they have to have a return for their shareholders."
Brown has had to adjust to a new boss in Florian Adamski, who took over less than a year ago from Daryl Simm as global CEO of Omnicom Media Group. Flo, as he's known in the company, "is very much in the detail .. and very much a roll-up-sleeves executive, which I appreciate," said Brown. "He's also incredibly future facing, which again is really important, and sets a very clear vision for us moving forward."
The digital industry's focus on performance marketing that comes so easily with a lot of newer innovations can be a dangerous path to go down if one overlooks the importance of brand, Brown explained.
"A couple of the watch-outs are that you move too far into performance marketing and you forget about the brand, the strength of the brand," she said. "And that's what you'll see coming through in Cannes, I hope. The brand hasn't gone anywhere -- it still needs to have great ideas behind it, [and] it needs to capture the imagination of consumers and cut through. Sometimes I do worry that over the years we've gone too lower-funnel, performance, and we've forgotten about the brand."
What does she hope to get out of Cannes Lions most of all? Connecting with people in-person again. "The number one thing for me is to see people," Brown explained. "There are some clients who are going to be there that I've only seen ever on a screen because they started their jobs during the pandemic ... so for me, that's one of the most exciting parts of the festival."
Check out other upcoming podcasts from Cannes with agency leaders and analysts this week.
Magnet’s Danielle Johnsen Karr explains why Team Whistle’s social content agency is not a branded content studio
In February, digital video publisher Team Whistle unveiled Magnet. The Eleven-owned media company billed Magnet as a social content agency rather than the more typical branded content studio label that publishers have opted for in the past.
In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Magnet lead Danielle Johnsen Karr explained that the company felt the studio label could constrain the roughly 35-person agency’s prospective client base.
Magnet provides a lot of the same services as the typical publisher branded content studio, such as short-form video production and editing down clients’ long-form content, Johnsen Karr acknowledged. But the social content agency also provides influencer marketing and channel management services and is looking to secure longer-term relationships with advertisers that extend beyond the scope of a given campaign.
“We felt like if we landed in that studio space, while we do all have those offerings, it might just sort of limit us in where we were going to reach some prospective clients, especially when we wanted to get into those longer-term remits with certain opportunities,” said Johnsen Karr.
If Magnet does not fashion itself a branded content studio and describes itself as a social content agency, does that put it in the realm of traditional creative agencies? That designation would fit Johnsen Karr’s background, having come from the agency world and worked for agencies including McCann NY, Deutsch NY and 360i.
“Good question. We’re probably not seeing ourselves as your typical creative agency. We do offer a lot of the services. What we don’t want to be doing is more of that day-to-day management,” Johnsen Karr said.
Social content agency it is.
Google’s David Temkin sheds light on the company’s preparations for disabling third-party cookies
Google is keeping to its end-of-2023 deadline for disabling the use of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser, the company’s senior director of product management, ads privacy and user trust David Temkin said in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast.
Of course, that timeline could still change, as it has before. But part of Google’s decision to extend its previous deadline was to give the company time for testing and tweaking, said Temkin. “We’ve got a pretty good line of sight to the endpoint. We’ve got a good plan to get there, and we’re making rapid progress,” he said.
Much of that plan centers on Google’s Privacy Sandbox, which spans the company’s collection of cookie-replacing technologies. That includes contextual targeting proposal Topics and retargeting tool FLEDGE. And technically, Google has two Privacy Sandboxes: the web-oriented Privacy Sandbox for Chrome and the recently introduced mobile-minded Privacy Sandbox for Android.
Considering the development of the connected TV advertising ecosystem and CTV’s reliance on the cookie-like IP address, CTV would seem ripe to eventually receive its own Privacy Sandbox — a possibility that the Google executive entertained.
“At some point in time, could solutions be delivered on CTV that would deliver the same kind of relevant advertising that you can see on these other identifier-free platforms? Yes,” said Temkin.
Lessons for an engineer running a local media company
Stepping into the digital media space in 2016, with a background in engineering and quality systems, I need all the help I can get. Our company 6AM City operates a network of hyper-local newsletter publications similar to theSkimm. In listening to the learnings from other tenured media folks on DigiDay, it has greatly helped advance our lessons learned and set us up for success. One of the greatest lessons learned is to reach out to those who are smarter than you and ask for what you need. It never hurts to ask... you never know what the connection on the other end might be able to contribute. We have successfully connected with many media and marketing executives by following up on Digiday Podcasts. There’s no better time then when it’s most relevant, so continue to listen everyday and be sure you walk away with something at the end of each Podcast.... then put it to use. Thanks for your contribution to furthering the ecosystem Brian Morrissey.
Brian interrupts his guests frequently & I’m not a fan.
Otherwise the content is perfect
Good dissection of the media business
As the news media slowly transitions to digital formats, this podcast breaks it down for those seeking to understand.