Why Omnicom Media Group is separating ‘activation’ from ‘investment’

The media holding group promoted Megan Pagliuca to chief activation officer to lead the charge.

Megan Pagliuca, chief activation officer, Omnicom Media Group
Megan Pagliuca, chief activation officer, Omnicom Media Group

Media activation is different from investment, and it’s time for media agencies to act like it.

That’s the strategy at Omnicom Media Group, which said Tuesday it has promoted Megan Pagliuca, formerly chief media and data officer at Hearts & Science, to chief activation officer of the media holding group in North America.

Pagliuca, a longtime OMG exec, will formalize activation as a clearly defined role and skill set at the group and agency level. As opposed to investment, which focuses on what the agency buys and for how much, activation is about understanding the most effective and efficient way to execute a buy using data and technology.

As data and technology continue to evolve, skill sets and team structures at agencies will continue to change. For instance, as Google search becomes more automated, how does that reshape agency search teams and functionalities? 

“What that team looks like is going to be different,” Pagliuca said.

As part of her role, Pagliuca will head up an activation analytics team that will dig into big questions that have faced the media buying world for years, such as how to best activate against a common currency for digital and linear media.

“I'm spending a lot of time with the networks that are moving into streaming talking about, how do we buy linear moving forward?” she said. “Are we transacting on demos? Are we trying new audience platforms? How are APIs connecting into that?”

But the team will also continue to tackle newer challenges, such as how to use clean rooms, or secure environments for data matching, as online identifiers phase out; or how to take advantage of e-commerce data to connect media buying to inventory availability. 

“Clean rooms are a big underlying component of how data will be shared over time as we focus on first-party data and direct integrations,” Pagliuca explained. 

To scale this thinking across OMG, an activation analytics lead at PHD, OMD and Hearts & Science will report into Pagliuca and a “lean” central team. OMG has also set up “communities” around activation disciplines, such as linear, digital, social, search or commerce, to develop expertise and share best practices on how to buy each inventory type.

For programmatic buying, for example, activation communities are collating best practices for buying on each demand-side and supply-side platform in the market, and overlay that with the best strategies for buying each inventory type they offer.

“Our ability to do sophisticated analytics and bring together data sets in these new clean rooms to better inform media activation is a huge focus,” Pagliuca said. “These environments are not easy to navigate, so this is a specialty we’re helping clients with.”

As Google phases out support for third-party cookies and other identifiers in Chrome, and with Apple’s mobile advertising ID on the chopping block, effectively using clean rooms will be the key to continuing personalized advertising in the future as more money flows to walled gardens.

“Differentiation will lie in your ability to use data effectively in those clean rooms,” Pagliuca said.

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