Publicis puts focus on data with Spine

Publicis Groupe has claimed its new data and technology division, Publicis Spine, can make it "much more of an indispensable partner" for brands as it battles to generate new revenues.

Steve King putting ‘data and technology at the heart of the company’
Steve King putting ‘data and technology at the heart of the company’

Publicis Spine brings together 3,500 staff as well as resources and data from across the group, including media-buying arm Publicis Media and consulting arm Publicis.Sapient.

Steve King, global chief executive of Publicis Media, described Publicis Spine as "our attempt to put data and technology at the heart of the company". The aim is to help clients with "marketing transformation and digital business transformation", he said.

Brands will be able to create IDs for individual consumers by using what Publicis Spine calls "unified data matching", which marries up first-, second- and third-party data. "The data is owned by clients," King pointed out.

They will also be able to use an end-to-end planning, activation and measurement platform, called PeopleCloud.

The 3,500 staff to which Publicis Spine will have access will come from existing agencies within the group and not become part of a new operating company. However, as part of a reorganisation, digital agency DigitasLBi will become part of Publicis Media, rather than sitting in Publicis.Sapient.

Publicis Groupe has spent 18 months developing Publicis Spine. "We decided to build and announce, rather than announce and build," King said. "We’ve already come out and tried to put it into practice."

He claimed it has been instrumental in garnering business, including the retention of Procter & Gamble’s £210m UK media account earlier this year. King would not discuss the details of the P&G win, but said the group took a "very new, bold approach".

It is thought Publicis Media used Sapient in its pitch, and offered data, technology and consulting services, alongside media planning and buying.

According to Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research, Publicis Spine "roughly competes with [m]Platform at WPP and Annalect at Omnicom". He added that it is "hard to see the differentiation" from rivals, although that "doesn’t mean there isn’t any, just that it hasn’t stood out so far".

King said: "I would never compare ourselves to what WPP and Omnicom have. We are creating our own platform."

Lisa Donohue, formerly global brand president of Starcom, has been named chief executive of Publicis Spine, which will have its own P&L.