Mindshare's The Loop: Where Wetware (Humans) Meets Software (Machines)

WPP had three wins in the first half of the year. The first win was the merger of 24/7 Real Media and Xaxis, which gave WPP the largest trading desk in the world, with more engineers, platforms and direct publisher relationships than anyone else. WPP’s second win was the failed merger between Publicis and Omnicom, ensuring that WPP is still the largest agency holding group. The third big win may not be as well known, but it may be the most important: the creation of Mindshare’s The Loop.

Nick Emery, CEO of Mindshare, believes that in order for the agency to remain relevant, it must change itself every year. It could be said that The Loop is a 21st-century version of the weekly brainstorming and strategy sessions in the 1950s that would occur between the agency’s creative and accounting teams, at the agency and the client. Back then, decisions were built on TV returns and focus group data, and the data was slower than today. 

Mindshare’s modern day “Mad Men” initiative uses a proprietary real-time system to make collaborative and adaptive decisions across paid (new in 2014), owned and earned media. This data-infused “war room” looks at the trends, CRM, behavioral and best digital data in an adaptive marketing or “Moneyball”-like system. The platform is constructed to encourage agency and client executives to think at both a strategic and tactical level in real time, using the multiple data streams to make incremental changes.  By adjusting the messaging and creative, as well as paid media, on a constant basis, Mindshare controls what it calls the “closed loop of media.”

Emery sees The Loop as a real-time communication process, as well as a data and competitive analysis tool. However, these functions are not as important as its fundamental ability to change the culture of the agency and the respective client team. The two groups in the war room act as one team, with one goal.  Having the human talent engaged with hundreds of streams of real-time data across multiple screens in a physical location allows the teams to see things not possible on paper or over email. This culture enables the team to make quick shifts in media spend, find deeper insights and make long-term decisions in real time based on mega-trends or specific campaign level findings.

To ensure The Loop is not just a feature or fad, Emory and the team spend more time on the human side  constantly putting time in with clients, interpreting data, and visualizing social feedback and trends.  Team training, therefore, takes the form of doing, viewing and evaluating -- with “gut-level” decisions being made, tested and changed.

The Loop is the first time I have seen seamless wetware (human) thoughts combined eloquently with the best of software (machines) data.  I believe the most fundamental innovation of The Loop is the theory behind it, not just the platform itself.

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