Havas' Bollore: Size Doesn't Matter; Innovation Does

A growing number of consumers use mobile devices to manage their lives and orchestrate daily activities — they use mobile devices to talk, text, read, consume content, react to events, research, shop and create content, among other uses.

According to Yannick Bollore, CEO of French ad holding company Havas, agencies and marketers need to figure out how to effectively communicate with consumers on the platform that has become the nerve center of their interconnected world.

“The question is how do we invest to put mobile at the core of everything we do,” said Bollore. “Our goal is to have 100% of our people being fluent in mobile, so that it can be integrated into what they do. It will just keep increasing in importance,” he added, because “it connects everything.”



Speaking at an Advertising Week session in New York, Bollore touched on a number of ways he believes the industry must evolve in order to remain viable.

Being nimble, with the ability to adapt and innovate are essentials going forward, he said. And he stressed that despite all the speculation about additional consolidation in the industry, size doesn’t guarantee success.

“I do not believe the biggest companies will win the race,” he said. Companies that figure out how to make their messaging to consumers resonate more effectively will be winners, he said. And that’s likely to occur at firms that instill a spirit of entrepreneurship within their culture. That spirit “is in our DNA, we’ve been doing it for two centuries,” he said, referring to the Bollore Group, which controls Havas.

That said, Havas has been innovating well before Bollore Group took control in 2005. It has been a pioneer in the programmatic space and just this week announced what it asserts is a new advancement in the field — the development of a so-called Meta-Demand Side Platform that will enable bidding for audience impressions on auction-based exchanges seamlessly across multiple DSPs, which it claims is an industry first. The advancement, asserted Bollore, puts the holding company “one step ahead” in the sector at least for now.

While the company is not in a race to build scale, Bollore said it is “in a race for talent … talent is the only thing that matters.” And not just traditional creative advertising talent, but smart people who understand data, media and how the development of content are shifting.

On the content front, the company is entering numerous partnerships to help it keep on the cutting edge of developments. The latest example: a deal it struck earlier this week with Universal Music Group to create native advertising for music videos via the Mirriad distribution platform.  A number of top Havas clients are expected to participate including Coca-Cola, LG, Dish Network and LVMH.

The company has struck a number of partnerships around the world to explore how technology can be used to create new content forms. One such partnership, with telecom company Orange is based in Los Angeles. Others have been struck in Asia, Europe and Israel, said Bollore. “We’re trying hard to push teams to innovate,” he said.

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