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Interpublic agency Draftfcb Chicago to stop treating mobile as standalone medium

Interpublic Group?s Draftfcb Chicago ad agency is embarking on a new policy of bringing mobile marketing in-house, bolting on mobile to cross-channel advertising created and deployed for clients.

In a non-exclusive deal struck with Dublin, Ireland-based Velti, Draftfcb Chicago will use the technology firm?s mGage platform to develop and deploy campaigns on SMS and mobile Web. The platform will also help the agency with mobile media planning and buying as well as proprietary measurement.

?I think the agency world feels pressure to provide expertise and strategic leadership about mobile to their clients, but are a bit frightened at the prospect of one of those clients actually wanting to get serious and buy something that?s been discussed,? said Patrick Moorhead, vice president and director of mobile platforms at Draftfcb Chicago.

In this Q&A with Mobile Marketer?s Mickey Alam Khan, Mr. Moorhead explains how Draftfcb Chicago will integrate mobile across work for all clients and then eventually import that approach to all offices in 92 countries across the agency network. The interview with Mr. Moorhead:

This deal with Velti ? it signifies a major shift in strategy for Draftfcb Chicago and is perhaps a first for agencies, right? You know, mobile not being treated as a standalone, vertical medium throughout the shop?
Yes. We believe this deal is a landmark from an agency perspective.

We are not aware of any other agency in our competitive set that has taken this aggressive of an approach to embracing and enabling mobile capabilities throughout the organization.
Why the deal with Velti ? there are several other mobile platforms?
We conducted an exhaustive and thorough evaluation of over 20 leading mobile platform providers via a cross-functional committee representing account services, planning, UX, creative, technology and executive leadership over a period of about three months.

In our final evaluation, Velti was the clear choice for a couple of reasons.

First, global footprint. Velti currently operates in over 35 countries worldwide.

In our long-range vision for the relationship, we will seek to roll out this capability to our own global network, allowing for our entire organization to offer mobile as an efficient integrated service while maintaining some degree of central standardization and aggregating the collective intelligence of all of our client work into one data set.

The wealth of knowledge we will accumulate from that type of global campaign aggregation will provide an independent and somewhat unprecedented level of intelligence about how consumers are actually interacting with mobile elements of our integrated campaigns.

Second, world-class tool set. In our evaluation, we determined that Velti offers an incredible suite of powerful tools that would meet a high percentage of our client campaign demands.

Additionally, our teams really intuitively understood how the platform tools were structured, making it easy for us to get going with client programs and training.

Did the Interpublic relationship have anything to do with the selection? Velti is equal partners with IPG in Ansible, a mobile marketing firm.
It did factor in, but was not a key point of decision.
This is a pretty bold move for you, right? What message are you trying to send here?
I think we?re sending the message to both our clients and the industry that mobile is a mature and potent marketing opportunity today, and going forward we believe it will only become more so.

From that perspective we?re emphasizing with our clients that we?re taking the mobile opportunity very seriously, and we believe they should as well.

To the industry we are saying it?s time, at least for us, to stop the now somewhat established practice of agencies talking about and pitching mobile ? and meanwhile back at the shop not really having the manpower, technology or even strategic skill to execute all of what they are selling.

This agreement will essentially allow Draftfcb to put its money where its mouth is when providing strategy, thought leadership and executions in mobile.
Will this deal extend across all Draftfcb offices nationwide? You?re setting the template.
Eventually, yes.

We are building and validating the model for this from a business, staffing and production point of view here in Chicago, with a long-range goal to scale the platform to support all of our North American network and eventually globally.
So how will this deal work?
The deal is what we?ve been referring to as a single-source relationship.

It?s not an exclusive agreement, meaning Draftfcb may continue to work with other mobile vendors as we see fit.

But our primary goal will be to leverage the favorable terms and circumstances that result from this kind of agreement to conduct all of the basic blocking and tackling of mobile campaign elements from within the Velti platform and within our own agency walls and teams.
Are Draftfcb?s clients really serious about mobile? Do they have a favorite channel within mobile?
Draftfcb?s clients are serious about mobile, and getting more so as we speak.

When we looked at the historical assessment of mobile work being done for clients at Draftfcb prior to this platform agreement, it was both surprising and exciting to see how much mobile work the agency was doing organically.

Now obviously we?re hoping that standardizing and formalizing our approach to mobile will allow us to execute more strategically, efficiently and in a scalable way.
Draftfcb works with Coors Light, Brown Forman, Hilton Hotels? Hampton Inn, Kmart and MilkPEP. What changes will you see with the Velti partnership on board?
I think ironically the goal of this platform agreement in part is to not have any radical changes.

The mobile capability will be embedded into these teams and simply become another aspect of our world-class integrated offering to our clients.

I think additionally it will drive more mobile activities within the client work because it makes thinking about integrating and executing mobile much simpler for client teams than it has been in the past.

And the fact that we are making an investment and looking to handle the work with the teams already in place for clients should inspire a higher degree of confidence in our clients.
Will the new mobile campaign on the Velti mGage platform break any new ground? And is it from existing clients?
Our first client campaign is in development in Chicago now and will debut this month. It is fairly groundbreaking both in its scale, and in the level of integration we?ve managed to attain with mobile and the overall campaign.

Can you describe the new campaign using mobile?
Cannot. But stay tuned ? we?ll make some exciting announcements with the client when it launches.
Why don?t we see more such initiatives standardizing mobile at large agencies?
It?s a question I have debated with other digital leaders for many years.

I can?t say for sure, but I think it?s a combination of fear about how to do it successfully and profitably, and some miscalculation about what the real business upside potential is.

It should be noted that Draftfcb is organized in such a way ? without any silos ? that it makes the addition of mobile services feel very natural and seamless, where in other organizational structures it would be more difficult and feel bolted on.

Because the agency is fully integrated through the line in its services, it provides an ideal environment for mobile because of the understanding that mobile really functions well when it?s embedded into the creative and media fiber of a brand?s campaigns.
Is the agency world scared of mobile or worried about margins?
In my opinion, yes, both.

I think the agency world feels pressure to provide expertise and strategic leadership about mobile to their clients, but are a bit frightened at the prospect of one of those clients actually wanting to get serious and buy something that?s been discussed.

Also, I think agencies, especially digital agencies, are really miscalculating how they want to charge for mobile, the kinds of margin requirements they are imposing on the services, and the realities of what?s actually possible from a revenue point of view. Point blank I think they are just getting some of those formulas wrong.
Do media buyers get mobile? It doesn?t seem that way.
Absolutely. We have a terrific digital media team here in Chicago, and every one of them is currently working with mobile as part of their plans.

On the traditional side, meaning TV and print, it?s not so much a question of media folks getting it, but more about making sure the planning and creative teams are plugged in and thinking mobile right from the start of the project.

Our planning and creative teams are all currently receiving deep digital training including comprehensive mobile training to make sure we?re factoring in our mobile capabilities early and often.
So what?s your objective with the Velti relationship?
Our objective is very simple: enable our existing client, creative and production teams to add mobile components easily and seamlessly to their toolkit for creating award winning integrated marketing solutions for our clients ? and ideally attract new clients.
What?s next for you?
Next for me is continuing to look at how we quantify and package our new mobile capabilities and go to market, and continuing with the training and strategic work within Draftfcb to ensure we?re getting the most out of the platform and really capitalizing on the mobile opportunity effectively for our clients.

I?m also now starting to look at a couple of other areas within our current offering that could benefit from a similar approach to standardization, automation and scaling as well. It?s a very exciting role in a very exciting time for this agency.