Tag: Nikki Mendonca

OMD Oasis at CES 2017: I want my own TV – the rise of addressability

What are the three scariest words to a marketeer? Well, according to David Pogue, Tech Critic at Yahoo Finance, at the OMD Oasis at CES last week they are “skip this ad”. The four members of the panel delved deeper into why consumers want to skip ads and their conclusion? It’s all down to relevance (or lack of it).

Bastien Schupp, Vice President Global Marketing Communications at Groupe Renault, explored the notion of relevance further by equating it to the car industry. He explained that, at any one time, 96% of people are not in the market for a vehicle and yet around 90% of communication is attributed to them. He talked about how we need more balance in focusing on the 4% who are actually ‘in the market’ to buy a car by marketing to individuals rather than marketing to the masses. His stark warning?

“More efficient targeting is about relevance. And if we don’t become more relevant we are doomed.” 

Bastien also added that it goes far beyond targeting, it’s also about relevant content too. Simply put? “You can’t just put your TV commercial on digital platforms”. He pointed out that achieving this shift was “a long process” and to ensure this happens “agencies need to transform rapidly”.

Paul Kelly, Chief Partnerships Officer at Awesomeness TV, elaborated further on the topic of relevance. He made a clear distinction between ‘individual relevance’ (something that satisfies the need state at that particular moment in time) and also ‘cultural relevance’ which he said was “an inconvenient truth… purchase decisions are often made on emotion rather than fact”. Kelly insisted that by continuing to chase increasing accountability through all forms of addressable media “we are possibly missing out on cultural relevance”. He cited an example from Honda who had decided to target younger age groups even though they are obviously not in the market for a Honda. The reasoning behind that move? Because if Honda don’t speak to those younger consumers then by the time they get into the market Honda won’t be in their consideration set. He added, “a lot of big brands are missing out on that right now”.

Nikki Mendonça, President at OMD EMEA, interjected and stated that brands need to become more disruptive. She believes that since the economic crisis many clients had become “risk averse” but she had detected more recently that some clients were becoming “more willing to take risks”. In terms of addressable media, she added that “we are only at the beginning” and the main challenges to adoption would be the acceleration of technology, how we use the data and data protection laws. But she made it clear that both advertisers and agencies need to get on board because “no-one is going to stop the addressability train”.


What followed was a lively debate on the future of live content via the likes of Periscope, Meerkat or Facebook Live. Bastien Schupp believes it’s potential is “hugely overrated”. He conceded that it may offer an interesting opportunity at live sporting events (such as unique viewing at half time during a football match) but for the automotive industry he was much more sceptical: “we could broadcast from a Motor Show but frankly unless we had a flying car then no-one would watch”.

David Pogue disagreed. His assertion was that the power of live video was its authenticity. He offered a personal perspective of taking the unboxing of technology (something we have all witnessed on YouTube) and taking it to a live platform. For example, he had reviewed the Apple Airpots in a 15-minute unveiling last month. Despite the fact that he didn’t think anyone would watch he was astonished that “58,000 people watched me open a box!”. In the following days, the views jumped up into the hundreds of thousands. He went on to say that although it wasn’t necessarily the best quality broadcast the fact that “you can’t edit it and you can’t script it” is one of the main reasons why consumers love it so much.

Paul Kelly had a foot in each camp. He acknowledged that there were limited applications for ‘live’ right now but still felt that we would pivot towards it when we had figured out how best to use it. And that is a challenge for clients, agencies and vendors alike to determine how best to use the platform. What is also true is that the technology will continue to evolve and as such previously undreamed-of applications will inevitably surface. But the key driver of the platform will, as ever, be the consumer themselves. As Kelly put it so succinctly “it depends solely on what the audience wants to see”.

Inside OMD’s ‘digital pivot’ across EMEA

In an exclusive interview with M&M Global, OMD EMEA boss Nikki Mendonca lifts the lid on the agency’s digital ‘pivot’, and discusses the challenge of making science ‘sexy’ in media.

The agency model is being disrupted, that much the industry agrees. What is being robustly debated is how these businesses should be reshaped – and whether they have a future at all.

It will come as no surprise that OMD’s EMEA president Nikki Mendonca has absolute faith in the future of her agency. However, unlike many of her rivals, she is dialling up efforts to move from OMD’s media buying and selling roots and transform the business into a broader deliverer of ‘marketing performance’.

At the heart of this transformation is a five-point ‘pivot’ to ensure OMD’s operations across EMEA becomes fit for the digital and mobile marketing age, with everything from job titles to candidate interview techniques up for review.

“The strategy is all about moving from a focus on transacting media to a world of actually delivering marketing performance for clients”

Discussing the changes with M&M Global, Mendonca said the agency’s senior management realised some time ago that a serious shift in emphasis to digital channels and technologies was urgently required.

“In all of our conversations, we have landed on the fact that having a digital-first mind-set is having a consumer-first mind-set,” she says. “Digital and, more principally, mobile had utterly transformed the path to purchase. You can go from awareness to purchase in 30 seconds, and we really have to get to the bottom of that.”


Instigating a fundamental change of business model across 65 countries and 85 offices is not easy, of course.

To inform local and regional leaders that a new approach was on the way, OMD convened an initial meeting with CEOs in April 2015, before gathering again in December to go over the plans in greater detail. Each and every market will be expected to implement the new strategy over the course of 2016.

Mendonca sums up the message she passed on to her colleagues: “In a nutshell, the strategy is all about moving from a focus on transacting media – which has pretty much been our heartland, pure media at the best price – and moving to a world of actually delivering marketing performance for clients.”

Most agencies at the very least pay lip service to the idea of change, coining neat slogans and trade marketing campaigns to promote a reputation for innovation, but Mendonca insists this pivot represents more than just PR.

At a very fundamental level, agency staff will find their roles changed, including job titles and descriptions. Account directors are becoming business directors, with new KPIs based around delivering growth for clients. Digital specialists are moving closer to clients; TV and digital departments have been merged to form A/V teams.


OMD has also quadrupled its training budget across the EMEA region, with staff at all levels required to dedicate hours each week to enhancing and broadening their skillsets. Areas such as e-commerce and SEO are prioritised.

An initiative called ‘Raise Your Game’ deliberately looks to challenge employees to embrace the pivot by making themselves more useful in the agency’s digital future. Those with traditional media backgrounds are encouraged to develop specialisms in new areas, including mobile and programmatic – Alex Newman, the agency’s EMEA head of mobile and an M&M Global blogger, moved over from the TV department.

Some skills cannot be gained through extra training, however, and Mendonca says OMD is looking to “fish in new pools” to find the right individuals to accelerate the business transformation.

“Those geeks are almost the new gods in our business, they really are so important. It’s trying to make that science bit sexier at OMD”

“We’re going straight to business and tech schools to yank them out the moment they have earned their degrees,” she says, laughing. “To be honest, we have to hire in [data skills] – it is very difficult to train people with the vertical skill-sets you need to be a data analyst.”

The recruitment process is also changing, with candidates challenged to prove they possess the requisite problem-solving attributes – all in the name of making science “sexy” within the organisation, says Mendonca.

“We have maths and science tests for candidates, testing lateral thinking, and giving them puzzles to solve against the clock. We want to test how they are thinking,” she says.

“These small changes can have a big impact. Those geeks are almost the new gods in our business, they really are so important. It’s trying to make that science bit sexier at OMD. Sometimes geeks have a bad name, but we’re putting them front and centre in pitches and client presentations. They have a lynchpin role.”


It is no good for the agency to change its own operating model but allow client relationships to remain entrenched in the past. OMD pushes for ‘reboot sessions’, especially with clients operating silo-based internal systems, to encourage all parties to arrive at a new “customer-first” strategy.

With clients such as PSA Peugeot and McDonald’s, the agency is changing the way it uses data to go beyond media ideas, instead moving to the “next iteration” of adapting and fine-tuning content “on the fly” based on what real-time insights it can garner from the data.

OMD has adopted “sophisticated OOH planning” with Google, and is starting to explore the potential of programmatic TV with Liberty Global, all in an effort to future-proof its business and ensure the agency can retain a seat at the top table with clients.

It is all, Mendonca admits, a far cry from her early days in the agency world: “I was a TV planner and buyer, and I used to let a campaign run and then check in once it was done three or four weeks later. We don’t operate like that. We operate under an active investment strategy.

“We understand this new world is around the corner, so we’ve got to prepare, start testing, and get ready.”

View original M&M Global article by Alex Brownsell at http://mandmglobal.com/inside-omds-digital-pivot-across-emea/.

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