Omnicom has signed what it calls ‘sensible collaborative agreements’ with AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo to, among other things, share online data.
The deals, which follow a similar agreement with Google last year, will give Omnicom’s agencies the ability to target advertising to particular locations, ages and demographics across the web’s biggest media networks.
Omnicom will also benefit from discounts of certain levels of expenditure with the online data giants. It says it already spends ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ with them each year.
CEO John Wren says it’s more sensible to create such relationships rather than investing directly in technology companies whose commercial advantages may be rapidly eroded in such rapidly-changing markets.
The deals also allow Omnicom to sidestep privacy issues as, although it will be able to use vast amounts of consumer data. it won’t actually own it.
Finally the three companies (and Google presumably) will field ‘creative ambassadors’ who will help keep Omnicom staff up to speed with the wonders of technology.
This approach from the number two global marcoms company by size is in direct contrast to rivals WPP and Publicis Groupe which have chosen to invest heavily in such companies, WPP with 24/7 Real Media and minority stakes in others such as Facebook specialist Buddy Media and Publicis Groupe with Razorfish and Digitas.
WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell and Publicis Groupe’s Maurice Levy would no doubt say that Omnicom is just putting a brave face on the fact that it’s late into the market despite its recent purchase of social media analyst Communispace for $100m.
And, while the deals will save Omnicom money (Publicis paid over $500m to Microsoft for Razorfish) it does leave the company vulnerable to the four giants for data provision.