ChatIPG: Mediabrands Reboots Tech, Data Stack Under A Global Kinesso Brand

IPG Mediabrands this morning announced a restructuring of three of its data and tech-oriented operating units -- search and social shop Reprise, programmatic data practice Matterkind, and data management platform Kinesso -- into a new integrated data and technology development and servicing unit branded Kinesso.

As part of the restructuring the Reprise and Matterkind brands will ultimately sunset worldwide, and transition to Kinesso, which will now be common tech and data stack powering all of IPG Mediabrands client-facing media agency networks: Initiative, Mediahub and UM.

In Q&A conducted on the eve of this morning's announcement, IPG Mediabrands Global CEO Eileen Kiernan and newly appointed Kinesso Global CEO Jarrod Martin (formerly CEO of Reprise), explain why the units have been consolidated, how it will increase the speed of data and innovation, and why IPG Mediabrands is rolling out a new, as-yet-unnamed chatbot assistant to its global workforce, and how all of that is differentiated from what other holding company peers are doing vis a vis their data and tech stacks.

: Is this a restructuring or a reorganization of operations under the Kinesso brand? What does this announcement mean in real terms?



Eileen Kiernan: It’s a restructuring, but it’s also a relaunch. It’s a moment in time when we’re very cognizant that the worlds of data, tech and media cannot operate independently or apart from each other with any kind of seams or any kind of friction.

Knowing that we have a very rich and tech-enabled world ahead of us in which we are driving a lot of incremental value for our clients, that value can come from any number of things, including speed-to-date, granularity of insight, the value of automation, whatever it is.

We’re making sure that we’ve brought data, tech and media together in one powerful unit so we can still deliver on media in an end-to-end fashion, excellently. But also to make sure that as we face the future that we can double down on data and build a decision-making engine on behalf of our clients – rich engineering talent, AI-backed – to make sure we deliver the kind of innovation our clients expect.

For all the above reasons, it was a moment in time to take stock of where we’ve been and where we want to go next and bring things together in the most sensible way possible.

MediaPost: Frankly, I’m not sure I’ve understood all the connections between Matterkind and Kinesso and Reprise leading up to this? We know IPG made a big bet by acquire Acxiom some years ago and that they have been part of operationalizing it for media. So this is a relaunch of that product?

Jarrod Martin: We wanted to bring those legacy units together. Reprise being the search and social, SEO brand. The Matterkind brand bringing programmatic, affiliate and other kinds of activity. And then the Kinesso brand being data and technology. Uniting those three to create one umbrella brand called Kinesso.

By bringing together the services, as well as the data and technology, process and template-oriented resources, we can start to build an end-to-end delivery engine in a seamless way. We’re trying to reduce the amount of seams and complexity to become more client-focused so that we are delivering value to clients.

By bringing together that process, that data and tech, as well as the services layer, we’ll be able to meaningfully change the way we go-to-market and the way we deliver those services on a day-to-day basis.

Sometimes, in other holding companies, those things are separated. You might have a technology group that’s different from a services group and a services group that is different from assistant design group. But we’re bringing all of those things together so that we can create one end-to-end delivery system.

MediaPost: Will those operating units continue to exist separately and do what they used to do servicing clients?

Kiernan: No. They are fully a function of what we’re considering the engine of media for both today and tomorrow.

Martin: Just to be clear, we want to be an ingredient brand where it’s appropriate. So where we have direct client relationships via UM, Initiative or Mediahub, we want to be supporting those brands and it’s almost seamless and the client doesn’t really know we’re there.

But these are the common components of those three lead brands. They’re being brought into one group to make sure we can service wit scale across all of them.

MediaPost: Previously, and going forward, can clients retain Kinesso independent of your media agency networks?

Martin: There will be instances where that happens, but in the vast majority of instances, we’ll be a supporting layer, supporting three entities: UM, Initiative and Mediahub.

Kiernan: We’re still very much focused on an agency-by-agency model. We believe in that differentiated proposition, and we intend for this unit to bolster them and make them even stronger. And that’s the point of what we do vs. the other holding companies.

Having this engine underneath them that can invest heavily in innovation on all of their behalf, we can make each of them far stronger.

MediaPost: So is it like Magna, which operates as a standalone entity providing market intelligence and negotiations that service the clients of Initiative and UM, etc.?

Kirenan: Yes.

Martin: To use an automotive analogy, we might be the common components that are invisible to the client in many instances, like the engine or the chassis. But the details that people see and touch and interact with will be the agency brands.

MediaPost: Is there anything else you can say about the Kinesso product itself? I mean, it exists within a world of data and technology that is fluid, dynamic and constantly evolving with things like generative AI and whatever comes next?

Martin: We’re constantly launching new products and service. AI is one of those, and we’ve partnered with heavily with a few different organisaitons including Microsoft, Google and Amazon. And we’ve launched an AI assistant that’s being put out next month to everyone of our employees for Mediabrands globally. That’s going to be a generic AI assistant to start, but then it’s going to become more custom to IPG Mediabrands. And then it is going to become more custom to the clients we work with based on its ability to collect and connect data from things like Outlook, Teams, etc. to make it a more customized AI system.

We also recently announced a unified retail media network, and Kinesso is the engine behind that. We might not be branding that as a Kinesso entity, but are the team that powers that offering. We want to double down on our growth in the retail-based commerce space within media.

There are other things like that that we will be looking to launch over the next few months that we can’t talk about today, but there will be a constant flow of new products and services that we’ll be creating through Kinesso.

Kiernan: By having one single entity more closely connected to our clients’ needs, our ability to respond with speed and innovation should be exponentially better than it has been in the past. That is a distinct part of the strategy.

MediaPost: Going back to the chatbot assistant you’re rolling out, does it have a cool name like “Chat IPG,” or anything like that?

Kiernan: TBD.

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