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Made to measure
PHD’s Mike Cooper tells Communicate why markets such as Saudi Arabia will only become more important, and how to benchmark social media by Austyn Allison
August 2, 2011 3:47 by Sidra Tariq
Mike Cooper, CEO of Omnicom Group media agency PHD, was recently in Dubai to head up the Media jury at the Dubai Lynx awards show in March. With initiatives such as its book, Media Agency 2014: PHD on the Future of the Media Agency, PHD has developed an emphasis on prediction, and Cooper in particular has been a strong proponent of the role of “Next 11,” or N11 countries in the evolution of the industry. Those countries are Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam. Markets in this region are not far behind.
Communicate caught up with Cooper after his keynote speech on the measurability of social media, and asked him about how developing markets and digital media will help drive the industry.
You’ve talked a lot about the N11. What’s PHD’s strategy regarding emerging markets, especially in the Middle East?
We have a very strong profile in emerging markets, and in any conversation with clients these days you spend a disproportionate amount of time talking about emerging markets because it’s what’s on everyone’s minds. Everybody is looking for growth; economies have slowed down in North America and Europe – the traditional western markets – so everyone is talking about growth in the emerging markets.
We have particular strengths in central and eastern Europe, and we have particular strengths in Asia and Latin America. We want to be in the emerging markets as they come on stream, so we opened an office in Saudi Arabia last year and got an office in Abu Dhabi. We will try to make sure we have the best possible coverage in this part of the world, so that we are not left behind.
Hopefully we are ahead of most. In the past 12 months we’ve opened offices in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi; we are very anxious to make sure we have a very strong presence in all of those places.
Are your clients pulling you there or are you taking your clients there?
It’s a bit of both. With regards to some of the Southeast Asia markets, certainly client activity pulled us there. If you are not in some of these places, and a client wants to be there, they are going to work with somebody else.
At the same time that question raises a larger point, which is: If you are going to be somewhere you have to be there meaningfully and you have to have a real presence on the ground. You can’t pretend you have a real presence somewhere and run the operation from somewhere else, because you’ll get found out. Many of the large, sophisticated multinational clients that we work with have been in many of the next wave of emerging markets, in some cases for many years, and you can’t pull the wool over their eyes about what kind of presence you have in these places.
What trends are we likely to see in media worldwide, and in emerging markets specifically, over the next five years?
At PHD, one of the areas we try to own is predicting the future of media. We have a book called 2014 (which is supposed to be five years ahead, so it’s being updated to 2016). What happens in media is affected by demographic issues and is affected by regulatory issues. But the fundamental thing that drives change in media is technology. There are two major things that are really coming through at the moment.
One is social media. There is just so much attention from clients in social media at the moment. We wanted to put together a presentation [at the Lynx] that was a definitive guide to what we know about ROI in social media. It sounds easy, but when we got down to it we sort of trawled the