In what appears to be a restructuring -- or at the very least, a rebranding of -- Xaxis, GroupM this morning announced the launch of a new “platform” rolling up its ad technology, data and consumer insights capabilities into one “suite.”
Aptly branded “[m]Platform,” the new unit will be helmed by the senior management team of Xaxis, including Brian Gleason, who was named CEO of the new unit.
Gleason, who most recently served as global CEO of Xaxis, will lead an [m]Platform team that includes president-North America Phil Cowdell, who was recently named president of GroupM platform services, from North American CEO of GroupM’s MediaCom unit.
Other key members of [m]Platform’s leadership team include COO Nicolle Pangis (formerly global COO of Xaxis), Chief Strategy Officer Jack Smith (formerly CTO of GroupM Connect) and CTO Bob Hammond (formerly CTO of Xaxis).
Lucas Mentasti was named president-Latin America from the same role at Xaxis. The company said presidents for the EMEA and APAC regions would be announced shortly.
The announcement, which was made early this morning, does not state how Xaxis will be reorganized with the launch of [m]Platform, but it implies it is not simply a rebranding of Xaxis, which will continue to exist. The announcement states [m]Platform “is supported by a team of data scientists, technologists and digital practitioners from across GroupM specialist companies and Xaxis.”
The announcement noted that [m]Platform would also leverage “wide-ranging WPP data sources across Kantar and Wunderman; third-party data providers; GroupM's data from unique agreements with global media partners; and clients' own data when they choose.”
GroupM said the goal of organizing all data sources is to create the “most complete consumer profiles with a brand’s target audience, including rich demographics, technology usage, behavioral insights, purchase history, location data and more (varies by region according to local regulations).”
The branding and positioning of [m]Platform comes at a time when other big media agencies and agency holding companies are recognizing the ascendence of platforms in general -- especially Google and Facebook -- as the core resource for targeting consumers across digital media.
Many others on Madison Avenue have crafted strategies and organizations designed to leverage those platforms as much as possible, but there is an increasing recognition that it is not exactly a two-way street. Much of the power has shifted to the side of those “walled gardens,” which generally do not release explicit consumer data, but act as the intermediaries.
WPP, from CEO Martin Sorrell on down, has had a longstanding position of resisting the consolidation of consumer data targeting within third-party platforms and creating its own.