Spoiler Alert: This Year's Agency Of The Year Award Is GroupM's To Lose

At least for the media agency holding company category.

I’ve never made a call like that before, and certainly would not have imagined making it so early in the year, but based on several things it has done so far – especially last week’s release of its framework and methodology for decarbonizing the media industry – I’m pretty sure it’s a lock.

To date, GroupM has launched not one, but two initiatives to create new industry media-measurement standards, and while the other one -- standardizing CTV measurement -- may not have quite the consequences of decarbonizing Planet Earth, it’s nonetheless important to Planet Media.

Both those initiatives are part of a long legacy of GroupM taking the lead on standardizing media measurement.

The first time I became aware of GroupM’s ability to do that was heading into the 2008-09 upfront advertising marketplace and both the buy- and sell-sides were at a stalemate over which of Nielsen’s new time-shifted TV ratings currencies to utilize as the basis of upfront ad buys. It was lobbying by GroupM’s Irwin Gotlieb, Rino Scanzoni and Lyle Schwartz that coalesced the ad industry around Nielsen’s C3 (live viewing plus three days of playback viewing) as the industry standard.

More recently, GroupM was the catalyst for the ad industry’s GARM (Global Alliance for Responsible Media) standards, and earlier this year, a push to set new industry standards for CTV measurement. I criticized GroupM a little bit on the last initiative, because I don’t believe it should be up to individual agencies -- nor (even worse) individual media suppliers -- to set industry standards for the metrics used by the industry to buy and sell media. I think it should be up to the industry at large, and should be done through trade organizations with the explicit involvement of the industry’s self-regulatory watchdog, the Media Rating Council.

But GroupM execs subsequently made a good case that, you know, nature abhors a vacuum, and all that. And barring anyone actually taking that initiative, they felt it was up to them to kickstart the process. Mainly because their clients were overpaying for inflated CTV ad impressions due to the vagaries of the technology (like “continuous play” and the way CTV platforms and devices account for actual viewing).

In terms of its just-released decarbonization framework, while it is a form of media measurement, it’s one that goes above and beyond conventional advertising metrics, although GroupM explicitly plans to utilize its advertising and media-buying leverage to make sure it happens.

I really hope other peers, independent agencies, advertisers, media and platforms get behind it and don’t adopt the industry’s obligatory “not inventory here” response, because of three reasons.

One is that GroupM’s framework and methodology is both thoughtful and scientifically based (it’s literally based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol science).

The second is that isn’t doing it with any hubris, and transparently acknowledges that its initial framework is not “perfect,” and that it welcomes input and inspiration from others to make it more so.

The third reason is, frankly, it doesn’t matter who gets credit for decarbonizing the advertising and media industry, so long as it happens.

In the end, does it really matter if GroupM gets another award from MediaPost if there’s no one around to remember it?

So let me repeat -- This year’s Agency of the Year award is GroupM’s to lose.

And conclude by saying there is nothing better I’d like to see than for Dentsu, Havas, IPG Mediabrands, OMG, Publicis, Stagwell, etc., to prove me wrong and make me eat my words. You’ve still got a few months to do that.

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