GroupM appoints John Montgomery as digital policeman

WPP’s GroupM, the world’s biggest media buyer, has appointed John Montgomery as its first executive vice president brand safety at GroupM Global.

So far so good but what does it mean and why are they doing it?

john-montgomery-188_DFy3WmkGroupM says Montgomery (left) “will work with GroupM’s community of digital advertising and media trading experts at Mindshare, MEC, MediaCom, Maxus, Essence, Xaxis and scores of regional companies globally to create a coherent set of global standards that operationalize brand safety for GroupM’s clients in every market in which they advertise.”

Operationalize indeed. Anyway it seems that Montgomery’s remit is to help ensure clients get what they pay for, both in terms of GroupM’s services and audiences. Key to the latter are the fears of some advertisers that they’re not sure what they’re buying and if they’re paying the right price and also the growing awareness of digital ad fraud, variously estimated at between ten and 30 per cent of the entire market.

GroupM also says: “In the US, GroupM leads the industry with the highest standards for digital advertising viewability, third-party audience verification, and anti-piracy controls; and recently it began working with publishers to address rising consumer use of ad blocking technologies. The company is also a crucial voice with regulators concerning industry self-regulation policies for digital marketing and consumer privacy.

“Via these initiatives, the U.S. digital advertising ecosystem is a more effective and safer platform for advertisers, content owners and consumers. As EVP of Brand Safety, Montgomery will work to expand adoption of these best practices in international markets.”

GroupM digital supremo Rob Norman enlarges thus: “Clients want to know their brands are safe and that the digital components of their media plans are effective in every region in which they operate. And importantly, they deserve to get what they’re paying for – the engagement of their targeted audiences with their brand messages, accountably and safely. John is one of the world’s foremost authorities on digital brand safety. He holds the respect of clients, media partners, and regulators for his innovative thinking and practical approaches to making digital advertising respectful of consumers, more effective for advertisers and consequently a viable business for publishers.”

Montgomery’s career with WPP began in 1989 when he joined Ogilvy in South Africa as media director and he later launched Mindshare in the region. Latterly he has been North American chairman of GroupM Connect which includes its programmatic offerings. He is also chair of the 4As Media Leadership Council. In which lies a rather large clue to all this.

Advertisers and media agencies are involved in a fight in the US in the wake of the American Association of National Advertisers’ recent report into media rebates and the like. Programatic advertising is also a big cause of concern among some advertisers – despite Norman’s comforting words. The big media agencies refused to co-operate with the ANA’s investigators K2 Intelligence and firm Decisions.

WPP and GroupM seem to be saying they can appoint their own sheriff in the person of Montgomery. It’s a bold move in its way but will it keep the wolves from the fold?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.