One of the world's largest media agencies is investing in social media marketing in a big way with Universal McCann's launch of Rally, a new social media division at the disposal of all UM's clients. Called Rally@UM in a nod to modern parlance, the social media division is headed up by Heidi Browning, a former MySpace executive, and is intended to help clients integrate social media into their long-term marketing and communications strategies, in part by helping them tackle communications planning and creative optimization.
In announcing the new launch, UM said Rally was created "to alleviate some of the confusion that exists about what social media means and how it can best be used," adding that Rally will demonstrate the viability and importance of social media with easily understood metrics for ROI.
Rally@UM's disciplines include "Listening, Insights & Measurement," consisting of social media monitoring, earned media reporting, and conversation mining; "Strategy & Ideation," covering content and communications planning, among other strategic services; "Community Activation and Consumer Relationship Management" (CRM), for community development and management for social media strategies; and Social Organizational Consulting, helping clients develop organizational models, processes, and best practices. With headquarters in New York, UM maintains offices in 130 countries, and employs about 3,600 people.
This news comes not long after Publicis Group's Vivaki digital group announced its intention to launch a social media consulting practice by the end of 2010. Meanwhile, social media ad spending is poised to boom, according to a number of independent forecasts. One recent report from Borrell, "The Social Networking Explosion: Ad Revenue Outlook" has social network ad spending increasing 68% from $4 billion in 2009 to $7.5 billion in 2010, then continuing to grow every year to about $38 billion in 2015.