Podcast: Don't Call MDC Partners A Holding Company

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"I don't even use the term 'holding company,’" MDC Partners CEO Scott Kauffman says in the latest episode of AdExchanger Talks. "We don't even think of ourselves as a parent company."

What, then?

Kauffman says MDC's investment philosophy is about "partnership" rather than "ownership." The idea is to enable growth at marketing services businesses rather than taking them over.

"We look for teams of people that are looking for escape velocity, and who are looking for a partner that will not be a heavy-handed, centralized, domineering, mandating entity in their lives," Kauffman says.

He calls MDC the "No. 1 smallest" of the seven agency groups. Of course, "smallest" is still pretty big in the case of MDC, a publicly traded company valued at $560 million which employs more than 5,000 and reported 2016 gross revenue of $1.3 billion. Its agencies include 72andSunny, Anomaly, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Assembly, The Media Kitchen and Varick Media Management.

Joining Kauffman for this episode is Michael Bassik, MDC's president of global digital operations. He talks about the company's data approach, and its efforts to pry loose its customers' first-party data.

"Our clients want us to give the best data-infused insights to inform marketing and business decisions, but they aren't always willing to give up their first party data," according to Bassik. "And that's a problem. Others have tried to shy away from that problem."

He says MDC addresses data-sharing issues head-on by introducing them in the new business process, rather than after the account is won.

The message to prospective clients is, "We're going to need access to your first party data to do our jobs properly, and if you're not willing to part with that then we're probably not the right people to work with."

Also in this episode: Incursions from the consulting layer, the MDC technology model and the past and future of the black box.

 

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