How The Internet is Blurring The Lines Between Creative And Ad Buying At WPP

Between the late ’90s and early 2000s, ad-holding companies began setting up clearer operating lines for their agencies: some would concentrate on creative and others would focus on media buying — and never the twain shall meet. But as digital has been added to the mix, the lines are blurring. A WSJ piece looks at WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather (on the traditional creative side) and Mediaedge: cia (a traditional media buyer and planner) and finds they are now converging on the same functions. Mediaedge is doing more internet marketing, while Ogilvy is expanding into ad-buying. While this is happening at other agencies as well, traditional media buyers take a dim view of the shift and believe it will hurt more than help. Chris Ingram, the founder of media shop the UK-based CIA, which WPP bought and merged with Mediaedge several years ago, warned of “duplication of effort and extra cost” of such efforts. As he told WSJ, “It’s like a land grab, and nobody has got any rules.”

Ogilvy’s buying unit continues double-digit growth: To concerns like Ingram’s, WPP would say that greater competition and a widening of skills at its agencies is a good thing in tough times like this. And the company claims that the policy is working at Ogilvy, which created a digital media buying division, [email protected], three years ago, and can be considered a competitor to WPP sibling Mediaedge’s MEC Interaction unit, which offers the same services. In terms of the pay-off, in 2008 [email protected]’s U.K. business grew about 25 percent, the company said, adding that its on track to grow 15 percent this year, which would be impressive in a market where digital ad spending is slowing much more considerably.

Mediaedge brings digital creative to Germany: A few months ago, Mediaedge:cia formed a digital creative shop in Paris called Arthur Schlovsky. The name is based on an invented persona the agency made it up in an effort to be “creative.” The character/agency symbol is a 1940’s style ad man who is credited with being the first to use product placement. Last month, Arthur Schlovsky opened in Germany. “This seems like a long way from what a media company traditionally has done,” says Mediaedge CEO Charles Courtier told WSJ, offering a counterpart to Ingram’s call for clearer boundaries by adding, “I don’t think anybody owns content development.”