30 January 2008

The Google-Publicis Partnership

Kevin Heisler’s post on the searchenginewatch.com blog states that “Google’s Tim Armstrong, president North American advertising and commerce, and Penry Price, vice-president of North American sales, with Digitas Chairman and CEO David Kenny will lead the global Google-Publicis partnership.” Thereby, repositioning the role of advertising, and advertising agencies, in the world of business.

But what does the Google-Publicis partnership mean to the world of advertising and business?

As I understand, the attempt is to provide personalised and customised messages to very clearly- and sharply-defined target customers so as to provide higher returns on advertising and marketing spends. It’s something direct marketing agencies have been trying to do for many years, but, somehow, have not been able to achieve the desired result as the right technology has not been available to them.

The Internet, of course, has changed all that. And, although direct marketing agencies, along with others, have made their moves through online advertising and CRM initiatives, traditional advertising agencies, which manage the bulk of media spends, have never really embraced the Internet and its potential. That’s because advertising agencies have (a) been too wrapped-up in their creatives, and (b) not understood technology.

The Google-Publicis partnership is expected to change all that. Mostly in the outlook and the thinking in the professions of advertising and marketing, as well as in the deliverables advertising agencies are accountable for. How will this new partnership strategy work? In a recent Advertising Age article, Publicis, Google Take Things to the Next Level, Abbey Klaassen discusses the new strategy:

“Publicis chief Maurice Levy and Google CEO Eric Schmidt last week outlined a plan to create products to make agency life more efficient. While the statement was ambiguous, it did introduce a plan to exchange talent, embedding Google engineers within media-planning and -buying groups and bringing agency executives to the Googleplex to get a crash course in internet technologies. And while the deal may have been instituted at the holding-company level, it will be implemented among Publicis Groupe’s creative and media shops.”

The article continues to say, “The idea is that certain agency functions -- for example, online-ad trafficking -- could benefit from new technologies to make it more efficient. The talent exchange will not be limited to agencies' online functions but will include offline areas as well, such as spot media, cable TV or radio-ad buying. It also will help Google develop relationships with Publicis creative shops, such as Saatchi or Fallon.”

According to the Advertising Age article, Maurice Levy, chief of Publicis Groupe, views this partnership as a triple win for clients, Google and Publicis, calling it a “collaboration ... based on a shared vision of how new technologies can be used to improve advertising.”

However, not everyone in the industry has welcomed the Google-Publicis partnership. For instance, Sir Martin Sorrell, chief of WPP group, has commented that Google is likely to be a short-term friend and a long-term enemy to Publicis… and to advertising agencies in general. Apparently, Sir Martin had used the term ‘frenemy’ to describe Google.

[Citation: Advertising Age article, Publicis, Google Take Things to the Next Level, dated 28 January 2008, by Abbey Klaassen. Also, Kevin Heisler’s blog post Google NYC and Digitas Lead Google-Publicis Partnership on searchenginewatch.com.]

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