WPP merges agencies to form ‘data-driven’ Wunderman Thompson

The new agency aims to offer “inspiration that is rooted in data-driven insight.”

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Wunderman Thompson Global CEO Mel Edwards and Chairman Tamara Ingram

Wunderman Global CEO Mel Edwards (left) will take on the same role at the new agency, while J. Walter Thompson CEO Tamara Ingram (right), will become Chairman. Photo provided by WPP.

Advertising holding company WPP Group said Monday it would merge the venerable creative shop J. Walter Thompson with the data- and direct-marketing-oriented Wunderman to form a new agency, which it says will offer “end-to-end solutions… at a global scale.” 

“Wunderman Thompson is a formidable combination,” WPP CEO Mark Read said in a statement, “bringing together the capabilities our clients are demanding – award-winning creativity alongside deep expertise in technology, data and commerce – in a single organization. “

Data before creative. Leading with the Wunderman brand, whose roots in direct marketing are decidedly less glamorous than the Mad Men-esque creative brand J. Walter Thompson, speaks volumes about how WPP seeks to position itself for its clients — it wants to be creative, but driven by data rather than by more nebulous “big ideas.”

“To achieve transformative outcomes, clients today need inspiration that is rooted in data-driven insight,” said Mel Edwards, the current global CEO of Wunderman who will take the same title at the new agency. “Wunderman Thompson offers precisely what clients want: brilliant creativity, expertise in data and sophisticated technology skills.” 

What it means for marketers. The reorganization affirms the need to focus on marketing technology in today’s marketplace. Noting the profound influence of technology on marketing, the WPP announcement touts “close and long-standing partnerships with Adobe, Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce and SAP.” In recent months, Wunderman has beefed up its technology portfolio with two acquisitions: Dutch martech performance company Emark and Amazon consulting firm 2Sales, which helps brands maximize their partnerships with the online retail giant. 

Edwards was just appointed global CEO of Wunderman in September, but previously served as CEO in the UK and EMEA regions. Tamara Ingram, CEO of J. Walter Thompson, will take the Chairman role at the new agency.

Wunderman Thompson, which is expected to be “fully operational” early next year, will employ 20,000 people and operate in 90 markets. They already share a number of clients, WPP says, and the agencies’ sites showcase work for brands like Coca-Cola, Shell, Nestlé, Samsung and ING. 



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When it comes to campaign design and measurement, many sizes fit all

When you focus on tuning one campaign KPI, you inevitably affect the others. It’s an imperfect world where you must be aware of the tradeoffs you’re making.

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Crafting the right digital strategy to hit your ultimate marketing goal is a balancing act. You need to vet platforms, allocate budget and determine appropriate campaign KPIs.

This last point is seemingly the easiest element of a campaign to settle upon. However, focusing on the wrong KPI or not understanding how various KPIs interact with each other may negatively impact campaign success.

In today’s advertising marketplace, where the tech-stack can provide innumerable campaign measures, digital marketers need to put extra care into fine-tuning their campaign KPIs to help ensure that the scale they need is not limited by the measures they put in place.

The ideal versus the reality

Wouldn’t it be perfect if every campaign could be tuned so it delivers 100 percent viewability, zero percent invalid traffic (IVT), 100 percent in-demo targeting -– and deliver in-full while hitting click-through rate (CTR), cost per acquisition (CPA), or video completion rate (VCR) goals?

Marketers, like everyone else, must operate in an imperfect world. There are tradeoffs –- and these tradeoffs might mean altering or changing the weight placed upon various campaign KPIs to help ensure success.

A one-size-fits-all approach to campaign design and measurement does not always work, and it certainly does not always work for a single advertiser under every condition at all times of the year.

As we move into the months where marketers are executing their Q4 strategies, this is especially important to consider. Most brands this time of year need scale to affect the buying habits of as many consumers as possible. More than ever, a finely-tuned advertising strategy with strategic campaign KPIs is necessary to help ensure the ultimate opportunity is not hindered by restrictive or competing measures.

Performance measures, whether an advertiser’s campaign KPIs or a supply partner’s benchmarks, are the currency by which we evaluate the efficacy of the advertiser/media partner relationship. Their critical importance to the relationship reinforces the need for careful measurement planning and design.

Advertisers should carefully balance strategic campaign performance measures such as acquisition, brand impact, and video completion with tactical delivery measures of viewability, brand safety, and in-demo performance. The balance struck between measures will vary for each advertiser and will likely be impacted by overall marketing objectives.

How to strike a balance

Striking a balance does not mean abandoning one measure -– such as viewability -– for the sake of another. Marketers should recognize, however, that there is interplay between measures. And that the focus on one measure may impact another.

Advertisers have the right to demand -– and media partners have the responsibility to provide –- a high-quality and effective advertising environment. As we head into Q4, it is important to review overall marketing objectives and how they translate to individual campaign KPIs. Adjust where necessary and work to understand how a focus on a specific KPI has the potential to either enhance or detract from another.

A poorly-designed program with conflicting KPIs may potentially limit your reach and hand customers over to a savvy competitor. Consider how the KPIs you focus on could impact the return on your media investment.

In the end, you want to use your media spend as efficiently as possible to scale your programs to engage as many potential customers as possible.

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