Media beast GroupM announces its arrival in New Zealand—UPDATED

The New Zealand media landscape is set to welcome a big new name, with GroupM, “the world’s biggest media investment company”, planning to launch here early next year. 

According to a release, the formation of the group, which is owned by WPP and clocked in with over US$100 billion in billings in 2013, will see MediaCom, Mindshare, MEC and Maxus come under the operational and financial structure of GroupM. Clients of the group’s creative agencies will continue under their current agreements with their current agencies.

“GroupM’s primary purpose is to maximise the performance of the individual media agencies on behalf of its clients, shareholders and people by operating as a parent and collaborator in performance-enhancing activities such as trading, sponsorship, sports, digital, finance and proprietary technology development,” says the release.  

kon New Zealand, which was restructured last year and recently lost Kiwibank, will also form part of GroupM. Ikon is owned by STW Group, which also partners with GroupM through Mindshare and Maxus. Ikon will retain its brand, but become part of the GroupM New Zealand management structure. Ikon Australia is unaffected by the partnership in New Zealand.

MediaCom has been on a bit of a roll recently, adding Revlon, Freedom, BNZ, Fonterra and Nestle to its ledger in recent years. And MEC, which is trading as Y&R Media in this market, is thought to be in the process of taking over Vodafone’s media account from Spark PHD. 

UPDATE: Vodafone sent through a statement saying: “Spark PHD currently provides media buying services to Vodafone New Zealand. We have not signed a contract with any other suppliers for media buying services.” 

In the release, John Steedman, chairman of GroupM for Australasia, said it would create a significant opportunity to offer new technology and other innovations that would drive results for clients.

“We have been evaluating the New Zealand marketplace for some time and we believe market dynamics and conditions are now right for the establishment of GroupM,” says Steedman. “Our primary goal is to keep our clients at the forefront of an ever-changing industry. While scale has always been important in the media business, the impact that technology, data and fragmentation have had on our business has made the application of scale more important than ever,” says Steedman.

12-year MediaCom veteran Sean Seamer, who was recently based in Singapore as chief business development officer across Asia Pacific, has been appointed as GroupM New Zealand chief executive and will report into Steedman.

“Sean is a Kiwi with strong global experience in digital and business development and that experience, coupled with an intimate knowledge of GroupM from his tenure at MediaCom, puts him in a unique position for ensuring the success of the direction we would like to take in New Zealand,” Steedman says. 

We asked Seamer a few questions about the arrival of GroupM.  

Will the media brands you mention in the release maintain their separation as distinct brands or will they all be coming together under the Group M banner? 

They are all separate brands with separate cultures and approaches to communication.

What will your billings be? And where does that place GroupM in this market? 

We’re still working through this as part of business planning and I don’t have anything I can share sorry. 

How many other staff will be employed by Group M, or will it be made up of existing staff from the other agencies? 

As above, sorry. Right now I am the only group staff member and until we are done with planning we won’t speculate to where we are going to make investments in people.

Is MEC trading as Y&R Media in this market? And are there offices for Mindshare and Maxus here?

We’re reviewing office space as per the release. Will let you know when we have landed on a location. Y&R will continue as an integrated operation and we are working closely with them to ensure they have access to the group infrastructure as an when needed.

At YouTube’s BrandCast event in Sydney recently, one of the biggest announcements made on the night was the launch of Google Preferred, a system that allows agencies to purchase media space on the most popular media channels upfront in much the same way as television ad space has been purchased until now. 

“We’ve packaged some of [YouTube’s] most popular, most engaging platforms and fastest growing channels, so that you can be … in an advertising-safe context,” said Google’s vice president of global brand solutions Lucas Watson. “We’ve made it easy to buy. We’ve organised it into ten verticals, like sport, food, music and entertainment, all sold like television on a reserve up-front basis. And we’ve made it easy to measure. YouTube, for the first time this year, delivers Nielsen OCR and ComScore’s VCE, reporting the audiences that we deliver to you with third party verification.”    

GroupM signed a deal with YouTube that Mumbrella says has been rumoured to be worth $20 millionThis upfront commitment means that GroupM will have the first opportunity to reserve some of the top content on YouTube and geo and demo target against it. 

After the event, Watson was asked whether Google Preferred would also be rolled out in New Zealand, but he said that Google was first focusing on the world’s larger markets. He did however add that Google was meeting with 30 agency representatives from New Zealand to discuss how the platform could be used more effectively. 

Seamer wouldn’t comment on the deal, but it is expected to be expanded into other markets and it seems like exactly the type of benefit GroupM’s scale will be trying to bring to this market. 

GroupM also recently signed a deal with Conde Nast, which agreed to tougher viewability standards and claims to “deliver 100 percent viewability of video and display ads”. 

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