MIAMI – Less than six months into his role as CEO of North America for GroupM, Brian Lesser offers this vision of the future of media: it all will be digital in nature and bought programmatically.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean the programmatic that we know and understand today,” Lesser says during a break at the Transformation conference of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. “It doesn’t have to be traded in an open marketplace with something like real-time bidding, but I do think eventually all media will be digital and it will be transacted by machines.”
In the meantime, Lesser is tasked with taking the notion of GroupM as a holding company and transforming and modernizing it to be more of a platform company to support media agencies like Mindshare, MEC, MediaCom and Maxus. In other words, it’s no longer good enough just to be the world’s largest buyer of media, as scale itself is not the ultimate solution.
“The notion of scale has changed over time. The intelligent application of scale has meant that we use technology to deliver performance to our clients in terms of the media marketplace,” Lesser observes. “But as the marketplace has gotten more complicated and complex, the intelligent application of scale has to evolve. Now how much you know about a consumer is as important as how much media you buy in the marketplace.”
Promoted last November from his role as CEO of GroupM’s Xaxis division, Lesser is focused on making the right investments and partnerships to guide the continued evolution of GroupM in a complex world of media channels and devices. He points to the creation of Modi Media in the programmatic television space as one example of adapting to where the industry is headed.
“We have a different philosophy within WPP and GroupM than some of our traditional competitors in that we’ve always invested quiet significantly in data and technology,” Lesser says. “My role, knowing platforms and programmatic as I do, is to continue that evolution and continue to invest in our technologies to support our clients’ performance.”