GroupM has created a new unit that aims to help agencies in the WPP Group and their clients understand changes in consumer behavior and the marketplace.
Chris Copeland, CEO of GroupM Search, has been named CEO of GroupM Next, while Cary Tilds, North American leader of digital media operations at GroupM agency Mindshare, will become chief innovation officer.
GroupM Next has a four-fold mission: create and manage partnership opportunities; integrate new technologies into its internal technology and data systems; provide education and guidance to sister agencies in WPP Group and clients on the market impact of new technology and best practices; and to deepen GroupM’s original research focused on the brand impact of new consumer devices and platforms.
“The two areas we will focus most heavily on are thought and integration of technology,” Copeland said. “Our clients want to understand market shifts, and they want to understand how to take advantage of emerging opportunities and integrate them into the larger strategy. Thought and technology are two areas that address that head on.”
Tilds’ will work with large partners like Microsoft and Google to ensure that WPP clients get first-look opportunities for new ad formats and platforms. At the same time, she’ll help clients connect with interesting startups and emerging technologies.
“We find that with very small startups, there is a frequent desire by brands to associate with them, because they are hip, they are the hot new thing,” Copeland said. “But these startups often don’t have the capacity to create business models and ad formats. We have been successful in the past with taking fully formed models out to a publisher and saying, ‘We’d be willing to do this kind of deal with you if we could have this kind of ad opportunity.'”
For example, he said GroupM clients have received early opportunities with Apple iAds and Facebook Timeline.
Most GroupM Next initiatives won’t come at an additional cost to clients. “Everything we’re doing at this stage is a bit of value add,” Copeland said. Research and perspective papers will be released to the market, and GroupM Next staffers will be available to consult with other WPP agencies and their clients on how to use the information. In the future, the group might charge for custom research for individual clients.
While today’s announcement was long on generalities, Copeland promised that more specific announcements will begin next week with the release of the first market perspective piece, and will continue with announcements of research staff hires.