iProspect appears to be on a winning streak. Just months before its parent company Dentsu Aegis Network acquired a majority equity stake in Merkle, the search performance marketing agency hired a former Google executive to launch and oversee a programmatic business within the agency.
Vincent Rinaldi, director of programmatic at iProspect, has been dubbed by more than one as "a programmatic genius." He comes to iProspect from Google, where he held the position of senior programmatic account manager for DoubleClick Finance. Prior to that, he spent time at Adap.TV, ESPN, and AudienceScience
The term "programmatic" to many agencies translates into a line item on an insertion order, but Rinaldi said media buyers need to get out of that mindset, so he has begun to educate clients. He said the technology takes the controls from a publisher and puts it into the advertiser's hand, similar to what automation did for search advertising.
"Search skill sets are unique and many that buy display and other media don't understand search at all, which is unfortunate," Rinaldi said. "As the industry moves more into technology it will give others the same skill sets and bring consistency to all media buys."
Rinaldi said advertisers need to focus on audiences rather than impressions. Following this rule, iProspect has begun to use some of the learnings through its audience data in programmatic display and video to power some search keywords in other media, depending on where the targeted consumers make a purchase.
In the future Rinaldi will have a team focused on programmatic. For starters, he needs to educate iProspect's internal agency team, but he has hired one employee now based in Texas who focuses on data to support media buys and has already begun to change the way Hilton's advertising team views programmatic, he said, which speaks to the benefits of the majority equity stake in Merkle.
"The data focus is not what you typically see in the agency world," Rinaldi said. "It's really changing the agency model."
Rinaldi declined to comment on Dentsu's majority stake in Merkle, but did say 'it speaks volumes to the way we find the right assets to build a network."
Merkle and iProspect will both be Global Network Brands within Dentsu's network, with Merkle being its newest addition and benefitting from collaboration with our other agency network brands.
Jerry Buhlmann, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network, said the company's business will become completely digital by 2020, where addressability and real time mean people focused marketing.