Publicis Groupe combines data and analytics into new Spine division

Publicis Spine will be lead by Lisa Donohue

Publicis Groupe has combined its data and technology capabilities into a new business division, Spine, while shuffling the structure of its agencies in a move that puts business transformation at the heart of what it offers to clients.

In an annoucement made today (11 October) the Groupe said Spine will use data to target advertising at consumers on an individual level.

It encompasses three core components; data matching of first, second and third party sources to create unique consumer IDs to better inform targeting; a cloud-based platform, PeopleCloud, that uses data to identify sources of client growth at an individual level; and a centralised data and analytics workforce of 3,500 engineers, analysts, and strategists from across Publicis Groupe.

Spine will be led by Lisa Donohue, who most recently served as global brand president of Starcom.

Donohue will report to Arthur Sadoun, chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe and Steve King, chief executive of Publicis Media, and Publicis Groupe Directoire member.

Donohue will be succeeded in the Starcom role by John Sheehy, formerly president of global clients for Publicis Media.

Jason Kodish, currently global chief data scientist at DigitasLBi, will serve as chief data officer of Publicis Spine, and Steve Simpson, who currently runs Publicis Media’s global analytics and insight practice, will serve as president of PeopleCloud.

Elsewhere in the reorganisation of the agency group, DigitasLBi, which sits under the Publicis.Sapient umbrella, will become "more aligned" with Publicis Media and Publicis Communications in order to give the agency access to "scalable" data and media resources, the Groupe said. But an agency spokesperson has stressed that the agency will still act as a standalone brand, and that these changes give it "more freedom" to pursue its work in creativity, media, data and technology - skills which sit across the entire Groupe.

The changes will see Michael Kahn, formerly the global brand president of Performics, take on the role of global president of DigitasLBi, a role previously held by Nigel Vaz. DigitasLBi said Kahn's initial focus as president will be US-based, so this role effectively replaces Tony Weisman, the former chief executive of DigitasLBi North America, who left in September to join Dunkin' Donuts.

Kahn will be succeeded by David Gould, previously chief delivery officer of Performics.

Publicis Groupe is also reorganising its digital business transformation assets within Publicis.Sapient into industry practice verticals. Nigel Vaz will lead digital business transformation efforts for Publicis Groupe, in addition to continuing in his role as chief executive EMEA and APAC of Publicis.Sapient.

It’s the latest reorganisation of the agency holding group after it restructured around four "solutions hubs" in 2015 as part of the group’s effort to break down silos and offer more integrated services to its clients.

Sadoun said of the changes: "These moves are the natural next steps in the development of our model, further strengthening capability on both the marketing and business transformation fronts and, importantly, closely interconnecting them, fueled by all of our data expertise."

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