Facebook has launched its first effort in an emerging focus area of developing deeper relationships with advertising agencies. The Facebook Studio concept is designed to showcase the creative and diverse experiences that are facilitated on the social platform. The program is a nice first attempt at bridging the gap that typically exists between media and publisher. It's also a safe step because it gives creative agencies and social content developers an opportunity to put their best work on display in a Facebook-sanctioned environment. These are all positives for Facebook and a safe play to move into this territory.
What comes next will be the true measure of the Facebook/agency relationship. Over the last decade, I've served on virtually every agency council run by a search engine and have seen the myriad of attempts engines have tried to make to connect with both standalone agencies and search units inside traditional media and creative shops. Every council or agency relationship has a stated mission of improving the working partnership to provide better opportunities. These are opportunities for agencies and clients to voice their wishes and discuss new innovations that would be meaningful, and opportunities for the platform to incorporate that feedback and create new models for revenue generation or enhance existing products.
Well, that's the stated goal. The reality is they are often as fulfilling as bi-partisan politics. Why? Because every council is driven by the sales arm of the organization with a guest appearance role by product engineering. Ultimately, the powers that drive these platforms, be it Google, Microsoft, or now Facebook, reside inside the engineering community that shapes innovation. And those individuals are either only included at random intervals, non-incentivized to incorporate this level of insight, or they simply hold "sales and agencies" in such disdain that the mere suggestion of collaboration draws a sneer and terse interaction. That leaves a sales team offering up the olive branch of peace and prosperity, and left to navigate into uncharted territory inside their own organization only to be met with an outcome that shows the council/partnership to be nothing more than a glorified sales effort with no real impact on bigger thought.
So, Facebook has made a fine first effort, but it's an easy effort and will ultimately mean little for future development. What the company does now in structuring true agency teams will reveal if it has an appetite for input and collaboration or if it is putting lipstick on the pig and passing it off for something more than what it is – just another sales tactic. If Facebook wants agencies to be "fans," then it'd be well-served by making product engineering an empowered and key component of this agency structure.
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Chris Copeland is chief executive officer of GroupM Next, the forward-looking, media innovation unit of GroupM. Chris is responsible for curating and communicating insight-focused media solutions across established and emerging platforms. Leveraging his multi-year experience with emerging media companies, Chris is tasked with stewarding GroupM Next in partnership with agency leadership from GroupM's four media marketing and marketing service agencies (Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, and Mindshare).
Guiding the Predictive Insights, Technology, Education, Research, and Communications teams at GroupM Next, Chris is responsible for overseeing the amplification of insights into opportunities that directly benefit the business of GroupM agencies and their clients. GroupM is the world's largest media investment management group and the media holding arm of WPP.
Chris was selected to lead GroupM Next after nine years of leading the search marketing practice within GroupM. Among his accomplishments include the development and integration of the global search marketing offering for GroupM agencies, GroupM Search, which manages $1.3 billion in search billings globally and has grown to more than 1,000 search marketing strategists serving 40 countries.
Chris is an active member on advisory boards at the 4A's, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and I-COM. He is a frequent speaker in global forums discussing the digital marketplace, and contributes editorial commentary regularly to Advertising Age, ClickZ, MediaPost, and MediaBizBloggers.com.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT