WPP Group-owned media agency GroupM’s launch Monday of spinoff Modi Media, intended to improve targeted television ads, expands WPP’s authority on addressable and interactive TV tools and services.
Michael Bologna, GroupM’s former director of emerging communications who was named as Modi’s president, said Modi will operate as a separate business unit with access to clients across parent company WPP’s roster of other media agencies, including MEC, Maxus, MediaCom and Mindshare.
It will also open access to non-GroupM advertisers “who may not need a full-service agency, but who may need some assistance in the advanced media space,” Bologna said. Modi signed two clients, whose names were undisclosed, in the weeks preceding its formal launch Monday.
Although the notion of “advanced media” services for TV – namely addressable, zone or household-level targeting – is not new, GroupM moved to create the unit now because, according to Bologna, the company was beginning to see critical mass.
“We’re starting to see the data come together where we can accurately define an appropriate household and message to them at scale,” he explained. “WPP has invested in technology systems, tools and data to bring this together for a long time now. We felt it was the right time to formalize the unit and get on top of it.”
Modi is not WPP’s first crack at a vertically focused agency unit. Wunderman and MEC recently launched Choreograph, a data-driven division aimed squarely at the converging paid, earned and owned media space. Bologna, who has worked among the WPP/GroupM ranks for about 15 years, said while “test-and-experiment” may be the order of the day in new media, creating a formal unit to service that sea change “really sends the message that we want to put our money where our mouth is.”
However, incorporating consumers’ changing consumption patterns within a media plan requires a mix of deeper data, better infrastructure and a cultural mind shift, as well. For instance, cable operators, satellite TV companies and telcos will have to invest in the kind of inventory management that enables individual or targeted household profile placements at scale. The systems and data to deploy these are "coming together," Bologna said.
Additionally, advertisers that historically focused on broad demographics in TV advertising must look beyond those parameters to address more than the “18-49-year-old woman with kids under 12.” These advertisers will need to push more data into the targeting mix based on factors they might not have previously considered, for instance credit score or household purchase histories for a specific product.
“I don’t think every TV network will go addressable because mass media is good and it works and you have to hit everybody with a certain amount of messaging for most brands,” Bologna acknowledged. “However, at the end of the day, if you can increase that frequency to your household target, it can really improve the ROI.”
Modi will have 20 employees to start, but Bologna expects the number to double by the end of the year. Modi is broken down into four pillars of solutions and services: Digital Content and Distribution, which focuses on digital content sales and rentals across cable, satellite and connected devices; Interactive Television, focusing on multiplatform planning, buying, production and data analysis; Addressable TV, focusing on targeted placements at the individual household level; and Hyper-local TV, focusing on targeted placements by zone, geography or past-purchase data.