The social and mobile business model is yet to be proven: Nick Emery, CEO, Mindshare Worldwide
For Nick Emery, CEO, Mindshare Worldwide staying married, having kids and keeping his dog happy are some of his proudest achievements.
What have been your top priorities since you assumed the role of CEO?
Despite what we talk about technology and data, it's all about people. What we always look at is our leadership across the Top 10 markets, the right people doing the job. Because of our structure, 75% of our business is global, so it's very important that we have global leaders with stature. We are pushing a new product called adaptive planning, where planners can move from the old linear way. We have also developed a new global dashboard called CORE, which was created in association with Adobe that works for close integration with Facebook and Google. It holistically looks at all clients data, in a way that can change an organisation.
What is it that you enjoy more? Dealing with big picture issues or tackling the challenges of the day?
I enjoy doing creative stuff, no matter what it is. Creating a new approach, a tool or a system, winning a client or creating a new bit of content. I think the only reason we are still working in agencies is because we can come up with ideas that can then be enacted. Otherwise there is no point.
Mindshare has managed to keep me engaged through my tenure. Our style has always been to appoint people to a position and then let them run with it. So we give people enough support and have enough structure and strategy, but don't really micro manage.
Is this your personal technique or that of Mindshare?
We do lot of gut feel and we also do a lot of youth. If people are good then we know, it's not to be ascertained by the number of years they've been in business. At times we do get it wrong, when we supposedly bring in big names from outside and they come in with a reputation. Because our style is to be hand's on, it has to be family, it's not about ego. They therefore have to be part of the Mindshare family to get that. Mindshare's not for everyone.
Mindshare recently unveiled its Mobile Marketing platform, you just spoke about CORE. How did you develop such tools, if Mindshare's style is all about people and gut feel?
Well, we're in the market every day. We have relationships with 35 out of 50 worldwide advertisers. We have 94 offices around the world with 6,000 people and that should be enough to pick up trends, listening to clients and have a number of metrics. We meet all our clients regularly, we have internal employee surveys, we have specialist communities, vertical communities, horizontal client communities and we talk a lot. We talk face-to-face, on fortnightly video calls, Skype and keep our finger on the pulse. If you do that, you find the trends.
Can you tell us how CORE came about?
Well, it's not really rocket science. We heard a lot of people talking about data and how important data is, so we thought let's do something about it. We found the right person to be our CTO, gave him a lot of money (laughs) and developed a product. We put our money where our mouth is. We'd spoken of the future being data and being adaptive and we couldn't do that without a large data management platform. Most people sell a myth, we sell something real.
Are investments in social media and mobile yielding returns or is it mainly hype?
There's a lot of snake oil, time share salesman in Silicon Valley who try to sell you something that doesn't exist and a lot of CEOs get sold on that because they think it is glamorous. I think the social and mobile business model is yet to be proven. At the same time, there is a huge potential, to know everything about your consumer, about data, to mine it and come up with a complete new business model from our side for the next revelation. To put the content, format and plan together until one way of working emerges that makes it interesting, creative and compelling. But what people do right now is on the fringes, rather than at the core and that's especially true of India.
What do you think of the various campaigns done on social media?
I think people's campaigns are still on the fringes. If you look at things like designer and coloured M&Ms, or Lufthansa — where you can decide who you want to sit with on the plane or even Coke vending machines. I think there are only two businesses that have fundamentally taken advantage of social media. One is Amazon which is a really adaptive business. If they were an agency that would be fantastic! And NikeiD (which allows users to customise products) is born on the web. Beyond that you struggle to find anything that is not on the fringes. But that's part of our business I think. Clients and marketers still think conservatively and traditionally and they still go by what is traditionally measured. Even if that measurement is no more robust than new measurement, they just feel safer with it, because it's been around for longer.
On the topic of measurement, what's your take on the NDTV - TAM faceoff ?
I'll defer it to the lawyers (laughs). In most markets there is a monopoly situation, how agency's pay for it and fund their co-operative is different by market. But it is something you need. Given the reliance that India has on TV, you cannot succeed without proper audience measurement. And your first duty as an agency is to spend your client's money as if it were your own and that's difficult to prove, if you don't know what's going on.