Publicis-owned VivaKi restructures as it looks to evolve agency trading desk model

Publicis Groupe's ad tech arm VivaKi is to evolve its centralised agency trading desk model and fuse the skills of its programmatic ad traders into all media agencies within the group.

President of VivaKi trading desk AOD, EMEA, Marco Bertozzi

The move will see VivaKi ad traders redistributed to the other Publicis media agencies, which include Starcom MediaVest, Walker Media and ZenithOptimedia. Details are yet to be revealed as to how many people will be redistributed globally, though it has been reported that some 120 ad buyers will be moved in the US.

A VivaKi spokesperson said the goal is to "move beyond the trading desk” approach, and ensure programmatic planning and activation services are integrated into the media planning processes within all Publicis agencies. Most of the changes, expected to be completed by the next quarter, with all Publicis Groupe clients to benefit from the new approach.

“We are taking programmatic planning and activation services closer to the media planning process, where programmatic expertise belongs," the spokesperson said.

"Our media agencies have more programmatic capacity than ever before, and will be equipped like never before to marry online/offline intelligence to optimise consumer engagement plans across all screens and touch points. These are people who manage the complex process of building audiences, delivering campaigns and optimising campaigns through pre- and post-campaign analytics."

The restructure began last summer with the reorganisation of the VivaKi programmatic team into client-focused teams.

President of VivaKi trading desk Audience On Demand, EMEA, Marco Bertozzi told The Drum the changes mark an "important" step in how the agency trading desk model will evolve, although he stressed that VivaKi would continue to work closely with clients on a centralised basis for tech and data-led projects.

"We think this is a very sensible, strategic thing to do. No-one can miss now how important programmatic trading is to the media plan and so we felt it important to push these skills upstream into the agencies," he added.

The team within VivaKi's core, which will consist of product architects, engineers, strategists, and solution designers, will deliver programmatic solutions and will also build out and expand what was started with its Adobe partnership Always On, announced last September.

The VivaKi team will deliver technology and central analytics for broad, vertical, cross-platform insights rather than at campaign level. VivaKi will serve as a hub-and-node to help share and activate solutions that are developed, either by VivaKi or any Publicis Groupe agency.

The changes are indicative of the ongoing conversations in the market as to the requirement for agency holding group trading desks to evolve, as increasingly brands favour in-house trading desk models. Last year the World Federation of Advertsiers released a report revealing that independent trading desks have overtaken agency trading desks (ATDs) in terms of usage, tripling year on year to 30 per cent, while use of ATDs fell 15 per cent.

VivaKi has for some years adopted a more consultative approach to brands wishing to explore their own in-house exchanges, having been Amazon's lead consultant for the launch of the online retailer's first private exchange in 2013. Bertozzi added that it is likely the agency will increase its level of consultancy projects for other clietns looking to explore the in-house approach.

Asda was the latest major retail brand to outline plans for its own trading desk capability, having started selling programmatic ads across three of its major websites in its first steps towards launching a private ad exchange. Dentsu Aegis Network is acting as consultant agency on the project.

The supermarket has a monthly 5.9 million-strong unique visitor base for its grocery site alone, according to Kantar Media.

Jessica Davies

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