Originally published on Digiday.
Continuing a drumbeat of e-commerce moves that it’s rolling out during Cannes Lions, Omnicom has partnered with the king of commerce, Amazon, in a move that involves sharing of data, new tools and several levels of talent training — all in the name of accelerating connected commerce.
Although Omnicom and Amazon have been quietly collaborating for more than a year, the holding company only now went public with their work together, which enables Omnicom Media Group agencies to access data from the Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) to improve e-commerce planning, media mapping and sales forecasting.
Together they have devised nearly 180 “instances” — client-partitioned environments — for Omnicom clients, which the holding company executives said is more than any rival holdco.
Clients that stand to benefit from the collaboration include Pepsico, Clorox, Georgia-Pacific and Beiersdorf, noted George Manas, worldwide CEO for OMD. “We’re enabling more sophistication in how we can analyze the activities happening in-platform and also into-platform from other media so we can optimize our clients more holistically,” said Manas. “Because historically, things have been much more silo’d and we want to get to get a clear sense of attribution to client outcomes.”
Holistically seems to be the order of the day at Omnicom, which earlier this spring hired Frank Kochenash to be CEO of eCommerce, a new Omnicom-wide position. Kochenash said he believes e-commerce has to touch and influence every corner of the holding company if it is to succeed.
“Our connection to the Amazon environment is very strong through our collaboration,” said Kochenash. “That’s the connection of audience media, retail data — putting all these things together allows us to create new things, new insights, and drive performance for our clients.”
As important as data is to all companies operating in marketing and media, the training element is as big a part of this collaboration, as OMG works to ensure its agencies have the talent and skills needed to execute on e-commerce up and down the purchase funnel — but also up and down the seniority levels.
“We are hiring in classes, which also creates a different type of camaraderie that we hope will lead to more retention,” said Megan Pagliuca, OMG’s chief activation officer.
Jay Pattisall, vp and agency analyst at Forrester Research, said training and degree certification for agency talent in tech and commerce platforms is important but also becoming ubiquitous. “The certifications are becoming a more important cost of doing business,” he said. “That certification is not only important to the agencies, but it’s becoming more important to clients around expertise” in the discipline.
Pagliuca said OMG is the first agency group to-date to have completed the AMC Launchpad Immersion Program, an eight-week joint program that has certified 150 marketing science experts globally to be “power users” of AMC.
That effort led to the co-development of a training program called Omega, a global initiative designed to upskill talent who already have Amazon expertise, with the goal of embedding commerce experts across OMG regions, agencies and teams. To date, 650 OMG staff have participated in the program.
Even entry-level talent is being sought out and trained. Amazon was one of the first retail partners to support OMG’s Commerce Boot Camp, which aims to recruit and train diverse entry-level candidates, from which OMG has hired more than 40 people. “They start together, they have four weeks together, then they’re part of an alumni program over time,” said Pagliuca.