UM, Zenith Lead The Pack In Forrester Media Agency Study

Forrester is out with a new evaluation of the eight largest holding company-owned media agencies (each with $20 billion or more in client billings globally). According to the report, Interpublic’s UM and Publicis Groupe’s Zenith are the “leaders” based on scores awarded across 23 criteria that were grouped into three “high-level” categories: current offering, strategy and market presence.

Publicis Groupe’s Starcom and Dentsu Aegis Network’s Carat were assessed as “strong performers.”

Group M’s Mindshare, MediaCom and Wavemaker and Omnicom’s OMD were rated as “contenders.”

Forrester noted that the GroupM agencies and OMD declined to formally participate in the evaluation, which the research firm acknowledged “restricted a complete view” into strategy and operations at the shops.

Criteria included planning and buying, insights, content development, strategic road map and priorities for 2019, transparency/brand safety strategy, partner strategy, billings, global footprint and other benchmarks.



UM's strengths include analytics, emerging technology, data sciences, approach to transparency/brand safety, and strategic vision. Its weaknesses, per the report, include agency partnerships and relative buying power. Among other attributes, clients are impressed with the agency’s negotiating skills, analytical approach and relationships with media owners. They would also “welcome improvements in programmatic execution and integration with Cadreon."

As to Zenith, Forrester commented that “the agency’s heritage as one of the first independent media networks set the stage for its vision to master newly converging media and commerce landscape.” Agency strengths include strategic vision, analytics, performance marketing, and data sciences. Weaknesses “lie in the clarity of its strategic road map relative to other agencies.” Clients respond positively to the agency’s marketplace partnerships, collaboration with other shops and approach to transparency and brand safety. Clients would “welcome improvements in applying emerging technologies to programmatic.”

The report lauds Starcom for “operationalizing” its human experience process into media strategy, communications planning and buying. “Weaknesses lie in emerging technology investment and performance marketing capabilities.” Collaborative skills, investments in data and Publicis Media’s approach to transparency and brand safety were also seen as positive qualities.

Carat shows strength in media technology, largely due to the Dentsu Aegis M1 data platform as well as its “substantial global presence.” Partnerships with media owners and its agnostic approach to programmatic were also favorably cited. Clients respond positively to its media and communications planning skills, transparency brand safety approach and content strategy capabilities. “They would "welcome improvements in programmatic services, emerging technology and data sciences.”

Mindshare's strengths include media and communications planning and performance marketing, per the report. “Based upon our analysis of publicly available information, we didn’t observe strengths in transparency, data sciences, its strategic vision, and its road map.”

OMD’s strengths include measurement and optimization, emerging technology services and data science capabilities. Forrester “didn’t observe strengths in strategic vision and road map, marketing mix modeling, data management services, transparency and partner strategies.”

MediaCom's strengths include its analytics-focused approach, investments in automated programmatic buying and “tenacious new business” efforts. The research firm did not observe strengths in transparency, strategic vision or agency partnerships.

Wavemaker, like its sibling GroupM agencies, leverages the [m]Platform audience and intelligence and activation solution and GroupM’s media partner and programmatic resources. Forrester did not observe strengths in strategic vision or transparency approach.

The full report, titled “The Forrester Wave: Global Media Agencies, Q3 2018,” and authored by Jay Pattisall, can be purchased via Forrester’s website. The research firm also said it would be issuing a separate report covering about three dozen media agencies in 2019.


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