In a NYT story on Publicis’s alignment around digital ad production, CEO Maurice Levy tells the Times that Google, MSN and Yahoo “will have to make a choice between being a medium or being an ad agency, and I believe that their interest will be to be a medium.”
In fact, they don’t have to make that choice at all, and each of those companies already is a huge ad agency as well as media network. This is most blatantly the case with Microsoft, which will shortly acquire one of the world’s largest digital agency networks. But Yahoo is also diving deep into digital ad production, most notably with its recent SmartAds product, which can marry creative assets to a database of segmented offers to create and serve hundreds or thousands of versions of an ad on the fly.
Publicis and the other holding companies may turn out to be the holdouts in a world where the media and ad agency interests reside under the same corporate umbrellas. That consolidation happened long ago in the Japanese market, despite the obvious conflicts of interest. And while advertisers don’t like it, there’s not much they can do. Anyway, transparent reporting & optimization technologies will protect us, (gulp) won’t they?