Media All-Star: Christian Juhl

Christian Juhl, Global CEO, GroupM

When Christian Juhl was a kid, he actually loved watching ads on TV. As an adult, he came into the world of advertising via the e-commerce side and programming, interested in finding out what one could order online.

“I remember telling my dad, ‘I promise you you’ll be able to order something on your phone one day,'” Juhl recalls. “And he told me I was an idiot.” As digital advertising and technology grew, it put him on the path that led him to become Global CEO of GroupM, which holds three of the top five global media agencies. “I saw that creative and media could work together,” he says. “It wasn’t just :30s and :60s but what technology can do for the brand experience.”

Today, Juhl leads 36,000 people ushering in the next era of media, wherein advertising works better for people. This includes instilling a responsibility to help clients assign media dollars as a force for good.

With more than $50 billion in media investment billings across 80 markets worldwide, GroupM uses its scale as the largest media investment group to bring about positive and meaningful change through its Responsible Investment Framework and its work with industry partners.

During Juhl’s tenure, GroupM has evolved into a data-centric, technology-focused operating system for the group’s media agencies — Mindshare, MediaCom, Wavemaker, and Essence — as well as a range of businesses innovating in addressable media, AI-driven programmatic, commerce, and more. In addition, he leads the purposeful application of GroupM’s scale across partnerships, data, and technology, so the clients of WPP’s media agencies benefit from breakthrough intelligence and capabilities.

The 4A’s has called Juhl one of the “100 people who make advertising great. Before taking his current position, he served as global ceo of GroupM’s Essence, a data and measurement-driven global agency. There, he was instrumental in driving the agency’s meteoric growth that saw its billings increase more than five-fold. Juhl joined Essence in 2013 to lead North America after spending 14 years at Razorfish.”

Advertising, says Juhl, should be great, as well as relevant, truthful, entertaining and emotional. It should also be a force for good, and GroupM’s Responsible Investment Framework shows clients how it measures and values media, taking into consideration the carbon footprint, the sustainability commitment, independent journalism, authenticity and waste.

“We change metrics beyond what might just be conversion or reach point or viewability,” he says. “We score our partners on those elements. Some have leaned in, some not as much. On a global basis, it is something people can get behind.”

Next up for Juhl and GroupM? Connected TV. “We’ve been saying it’s the year of mobile for, what, eight years.? This might actually be the year in connected tv when analog moves a massive amount into that. Then we can reach a linear audience in a more connected way with cross measurement and frequency managers.”

Recently, GroupM teamed with WPP sibling production agency Hogarth to launch an Addressable Content Practice (ACP), combining the group’s addressable media offering with Hogarth’s content creation capabilities. It’s designed to help clients deliver more data-driven, personalized ads to consumers at scale and speed. 

Integrated within each agency’s media planning and strategy process, the ACP’s core function will be to create and produce omnichannel creative content delivered through technology across channels, platforms and devices. 

“Campaigns are increasingly becoming outcomes-driven, especially as audience-first planning becomes the standard,” says Juhl. “This reality, in addition to the pending deprecation of third-party cookies and the growing number of ad-lite or ad-free platforms, means we will have fewer opportunities to reach consumers in the future. A powerful and precise addressable strategy, across media and content, will help brands realize more fully the potential and performance of their message and investments.”   

Juhl serves as Mediaweek’s Council Chair and as a media advisor on partner councils and boards for Amazon Advertising, Twitter, and Snap, where he helps ensure a healthy ecosystem for brands and where he shares his passion for making advertising work better for people.

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