What Does The Publicis And Omnicom Group Merger Mean For Marketers?

A few weeks ago, advertising mega-agencies Omnicom Group (OMC) and Publicis Group SA (PUBGY) announced a merger that would turn them into an even bigger mega-agency, worth $35.1 billion, according to the latest valuations for both companies. And if that sum alone doesn’t impress you, consider this: In 2012, Omnicom and Publicis earned 42 percent of all the revenue generated by the top ten media agencies in the world.

How you feel about this merger depends largely on where you sit in the advertising space. You might be waiting to see what’s next, feeling a bit bewildered, doing your best to be resolutely unthreatened or worried about the ongoing “megafication” of everything digital. (Honestly, how big do you need to be to play with the big boys?)

But, regardless whether you’re excited, anxious or confused, there’s undeniably a larger (no pun intended) strategy afoot – and many analysts agree that it has plenty to do with big data and analytics.

Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis, has already established how much big data matters to the two giants, especially given how internet-based marketing and advertising has shifted over the past decade. Effective customer engagement and relationship building has never been more important (or more possible), and the companies that can automate those processes are the ones who’ll outpace their competitors as they better manage and analyze the data consumers provide.

Granted, this trend is putting tremendous pressure on brands and agencies alike to broker a sometimes-uneasy relationship between their marketing and IT departments. The ultimate goal is to put big data to use creating “omnichannel” experiences that link different forms of media and advertising into a seamless flow of brand messaging and engagement, a flow that (hopefully) consumers won’t be able to resist.

And what does this all mean to you, the intrepid marketer?

  • The agency model is rapidly changing. The big agency vs. big agency battle has been waged for decades now. But as I see it, the answer to more profits isn’t size – it’s a change in pricing and operational models. A great agency is great because the people there have smart ideas, and they figure out how to effectively execute on them. However, clients don’t pay for ideas per se; they still pay for results.If insight becomes the commodity, “big” won’t matter nearly so much as it seems to now. And speaking of insight…
  • Big data isn’t going away . . . and you need to get a handle on it. Now that even stalwart traditional agencies are waking up to its value, there’s no doubt that big data has arrived. Bottom line: If you’re notmaking decisions based on insights culled from effective analytics, you’re working in the dark. Why? You don’t need to be.
  • Omnichannel isn’t just a buzzword. Omnichannel is a worthwhile goal. Marketers have a funny habit of introducing terms to try and sum up shifts in our industry and our behaviors. But when it comes to “omnichannel” marketing, the goal is one we should all have had all along: to provide a consistent and trustworthy brand experience that feels naturally compelling to the consumer across all channels and platforms they choose to use. Big data just happens to provide the key that can put that goal within reach.

I realize the verdict isn’t in on what the Publicis-Omnicom merger will truly mean for the advertising industry – and we won’t get that answer for quite some time. But savvy marketers are paying attention to the emerging takeaways and planning their moves accordingly. What are your thoughts?

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