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WPP launches first-party data business in wake of Apple privacy update


By Sam Bradley | Senior Reporter

April 27, 2021 | 5 min read

Ad giant WPP has announced the launch of a new global data company, Choreograph, bringing together specialist data units from GroupM and Wunderman Thompson.


WPP has launched a new data business, just as Apple’s latest OS update threatens to change the nature of digital advertising

The new company will focus on ”helping clients realize the value of their first-party data, consult on and implement their data and technology strategies, and advise on privacy-first approaches to navigate the fast-changing data landscape,” according to a statement from WPP.

The move comes as Apple’s latest operating system update threatens to upend the global digital advertising landscape by putting control over data back in the hands of consumers.

As third-party-based data solutions become less tenable, first-party data has grown in importance for publishers, brands and agencies.

What will the new company offer?

  • Choregraph combines the data units of GroupM and Wunderman Thompson into a new entity focused on optimizing clients’ first-party data strategies.

  • According to the holding company, Choreograph’s business will focus on four key areas: audience insights and planning; private identity solutions; AI-based media optimization; and predictive analytics – as well as services such as strategy consultancy, bespoke technology development and data management operations.

  • Operating within the GroupM umbrella, Choreograph will be led by GroupM North America chief executive Kirk McDonald.

  • The new company will include a headcount of over 700 drawn from across WPP, with offices in Karlsruhe, Lille, London, New Delhi, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai and Sydney.

  • Among Choreograph’s initial clients is Walgreens Boots Alliance. Matt Harker, vice-president global marketing strategy and transformation, said: “Choreograph delivers a unified identity-based approach, providing unique insights to fuel brand growth and power personalized experiences for our customers while fully respecting their privacy and preferences.”

Why now?

  • Mark Read, chief executive of WPP, said of the launch: “We are at an inflection point in the industry, where brands have an imperative to leverage their own first-party data to make advertising more relevant, effective and personal while fully respecting consumer privacy.

  • ”We must also use data to gain insights, shape our creative work and measure results – and this requires a holistic approach that this integrated offering brings by enabling data to flow across client, agency and media owners. Uniting the powerful and established data units of GroupM and Wunderman Thompson into a single global data company is another important step in our simplification strategy.”

  • Christian Juhl, GroupM global chief exec, said: “Data management today should reflect the data and technology savvy of the consumer. Choreograph is built on common-sense principles that allow marketers to manage and use their data. Our framework of manage and earn, expand and enrich, and activate and optimize is flexible, modular and designed for the future of data-based businesses, enabling marketers to create better experiences, stronger brands and trusted customer relationships.”

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