The year 2018 was one of considerable change for WPP, from the top of its management to its various operating companies and GroupM offerings. But it’s possible to map the road forward largely with one word: simplify.

As in, make things as simple as possible for the biggest of clients and the teams within GroupM while putting forth a value proposition to attract mid-level or insurgent brands, according to GroupM North America CEO Tim Castree. “We are looking to radically simplify our business,” he says in this interview with Beet.TV.

Two areas of particular focus for Castree are increasing the company’s specialist capabilities while strengthening the core fundamentals of successful cross channel planning and activation. “Obviously, the business has been changing a lot for us.”

Formerly the Global CEO of GroupM’s Wavemaker agency, Castree assumed his new position in December of 2018, as Campaign reports.

Business at GroupM has been growing in areas like content, ecommerce, precision and performance marketing, analytics and data sciences. “These are the things that are becoming increasingly part of the integrated media offering, so that’s what we’re in business to deliver,” Castree explains.

Asked about the growth and influence of GroupM’s [m]PLATFORM, he describes it as “a kind of liberation if you will” of technology assets that had existed inside of Xaxis. MPlatform is now a key element of WPP’s overall tech strategy.

While advanced capabilities are important, clients are looking for “foundational” work on holistic cross-channel and cross-platform activation, some that’s been hindered by walled gardens, different ad environments and the fragmentation of ad formats. “But it’s still really in many ways what clients are looking for.”

Recruiting the appropriate mix of talent is constrained by the combined pressures of client procurement and market competition.

“So a lot of the strategic things that we’re trying to get done are happening in an environment where the core business has been getting squeezed, and it’s been difficult to make a lot of the investment choices that we need to make to grow our business into the future,” Castree says.

Noting that media agencies generally attract “graduates in fairly monolithic ways,” GroupM is seeking to refine its recruitment efforts by working with technical schools and training specialists “to bring more qualified people into the organization and then do that across a number of various work streams.”

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