Mediabrands Creates Catch-All ‘Ventures’ Unit

A new division at IPG’s Mediabrands network will wrangle together a dozen or so of its diversified media holdings, including many digital and local ad companies.

The unit, Mediabrands Ventures, will house almost everything that is not part of Initiative or Universal McCann — the two powerhouse media agencies in the Mediabrands portfolio.

Among those now calling Mediabrands Ventures home are Reprise Media, a search and social agency whose clients include Microsoft and Hyundai; audience platform Cadreon, which buys display media directly from exchanges; local specialists Geomentum and Wahlstrom; mobile agency Ansible; and media bartering division Orion Trading. A motley crew to be sure.

Matt Freeman, former CEO of Omnicom’s Tribal DDB, was named to lead the new unit as chief executive. Freeman was most recently CEO of Betawave, an ad network focused on family friendly sites. Betawave was previously called GoFish.

Freeman said his task at Mediabrands is to “take the existing businesses and scale them, take them global.”

To that end, the company simultaneously announced the beginning of a global expansion for Reprise Media. Reprise announced office openings today in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid, and Sydney. Additionally, in the coming year, it will set up shop in a number of other countries, including Italy, Poland, China, India, and South Korea.

Despite its name, Mediabrands Ventures has no plans to pursue new investments in outside advertising companies — as its Publicis rival Vivaki Ventures has done. Freeman noted his fiefdom does contain an investment and incubation arm, called Greenhouse, that has performed that function in the past.

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