3 Takeaways from the Omnicom/Publicis Merger

To much industry and even more media fanfare Omnicom Group and Publicis will merge. Does that mean the world’s newest biggest advertising “Groupe” has set itself up for certain success? Here are three things to consider.

Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better

Writing on the Forbes CMO Network Avi Dan weighs the strengths against the weaknesses of the merger and points out that even if this new conglomeration yields the biggest ad agency on the planet, “profitable, organic growth” will still prove harder to achieve, largely because an operation as large as the new Groupe will be harder to manage.

As nFusion’s CEO John Ellett comments, “bigger is not necessarily better for clients. In the age of the digitally enabled, socially connected customer, agency teams that are agile, aligned and accountable” can better serve clients than bottom-line focused, bureaucratic behemoths.

It’s All about Consumer Data. Or Is It?

The New York Times explains the merger as an effort to catch up to Google. In other words, the new Groupe hopes to compete with Google by using its combined technological powers to process an inordinate amount of consumer data to deliver ever-more personalized, timely messages to companies’ customers — the holy grail of all marketers.

Dan suggests little cause for celebration in that aspect of the merger. “Chasing eyeballs in a fragmented market…makes the shift to digital less profitable” for ad conglomerates operating in the traditional agency model. There may be some profit to be gained on the margins, giving “advertisers bigger negotiating muscles with the media.” But that doesn’t account for the explosive growth of social, search and other digital outlets that organizations must also factor into their marketing strategies, for which these organizations will continue to turn to Google and Facebook.

You Still Need Storytellers

David Droga, in the Times, reminds anyone blinded by advertising science that it will take more than an ever-increasing investment in technology and acquisitions (size) to bring success. Droga touts creativity’s place in the marketing firmament. “You still need thinkers,” he says, “You still need storytellers.” And, as Avi Dan puts it, “The quality of creative work has little to do with size.”

The strength of smaller agencies to move at pace with today’s digitally enabled, socially connected customers means the Omnicom/Publicis Goliath will always have to contend with many, much more agile, client/customer-attuned Davids. “The answer is not mergers,” concludes Dan, “The answer is for the advertising industry to change its model.”

Read Avi Dan’s feature on the Forbes CMO Network.

Read the New York Times story on the merger.