WPP’s GroupM has created a new innovations unit called GroupM Next that will be overseen by Chris Copeland, the CEO of GroupM Search.
The unit is designed to help clients at the company’s media shops -- Mindshare, MediaCom, MEC and Maxus -- better navigate the evolving digital sector and keep abreast of developments in areas such as social, mobile and addressable systems.
It also identifies partnership opportunities between vendors and clients within the sector.
According to Copeland, GroupM Next is not a new client offering; it is an operation designed to strengthen “the value of our agency and client relationships ... the primary focus of this unit is to amplify the efforts that are put forward by the collective of our GroupM agencies."
“Every client wants to know how we can use the collective power of the organization to drive innovation that can benefit them,” added Copeland. Most clients are also looking for “first look” opportunities with the Facebooks and Googles of the world, but also with emerging players, like Spotify and Pandora.
In some instances, GroupM Next will work with clients and newer platforms to create ad models that don’t yet exist. Pinterest, for example, has buzz -- but not a real ad product, he noted.
The new group, which Copeland will oversee in addition to the search unit, is being folded within GroupM Next. It will also place an emphasis on new research to better understand how different digital platforms and technologies are impacting overall consumer media consumption.
Separately, GroupM said it named Cary Tilds to be its Chief Innovation Officer, a new post at the media oversight arm. Most recently, Tilds was Mindshare’s North American digital leader. For now, she will remain based in Detroit. For GroupM Next, Tilds’ focus will be on technology and how the GroupM media shops can best interface with the latest platforms, while Copeland will oversee the research and insights efforts of the new unit.
GroupM Next is based in St. Louis, where Copeland and GroupM Search are based.
The unit comprises about 25 staffers spanning insights, research, technology and education, Copeland said. Most of the staff is in St. Louis and Detroit, but plans call for additional hires to be based on the East and West Coast.
Part of the mission, he said, “will be to build on the thought and technology platforms” that currently exist within GroupM, such as social media specialist M80 and mobile shop Joule and research unit Kantar.
The group also plans to hold a series of conferences designed to educate both clients and staff on the latest developments in the digital space.