The fact that Mediabrands has chosen to situate the head of its retail media practice within its emerging media think tank speaks volumes about the role new and emerging media technologies - everything from mobile to digital, place-based signage and media networks - are having on the way consumers shop at retail, and how marketers reach and communicate to them.
Interpublic executives said to "stay tuned" for phase two of the initiative this fall, but the initial move suggests that Interpublic is accelerating its efforts in the retail media sector - sometimes known as "shopper media."
They emphasized that the first phase is part of a larger Interpublic strategy to better integrate the resources of the holding company's "hyper local agencies," shops like local newspaper specialty agency Newspaper Services of America, and directory agency Whalstrom Group, into a bigger "retail 3.0" play.
The move follows similar reorganizations at other big agency holding companies recognizing the increasing role of retail media, but the initial realignment of Interpublic's operations with its new media think tank suggests that it is far more than a geographic strategy.
Interpublic said that part of Ross role will be ensuring that the lab creates and "merchandizes" proprietary retail media opportunities for Interpublic's clients - both retail focused ones, as well as manufacturers.
"On the larger Mediabrands Retail 3.0 solution, John will work in lock step with our highly sophisticated hyper-local agencies led by Dave Walker, president-CEO, NSA and Geoff Kehoe, President, Wahlstrom," Interpublic said in a statement announcing the reorganization.
Lori Schwartz, the senior vice president who has been directing Interpublic's Emerging Media Lab, will continue to manage it, and will work with Ross to establish new technology partnerships.