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What Does the Publicis/Omnicom Merger Mean? (Part 2)

Yesterday we shared some of the many third-party predictions and analyses of the Publicis/Omnicom merger and what it will mean to the future of the advertising and marketing industries. To recap: On the financial front, industry revenue totals will probably stay steady—but the organization of the game will undoubtedly change.

The next question: what role will PR firms and professionals play in this new arrangement?

Richard Edelman believes that PR will act as “part of the supporting cast” in this ongoing soap opera in order to back up the newest and biggest players, Digital and Data. In other words (via The New York Times), it’s all about the mega-agencies chasing Google to reach more targeted users via Big Data number crunching.

Yet, despite this hyper-focus on math nerds, Edelman writes that individual “thought leader” voices within the PR industry will grow even more valuable as they bring crucial “small data” research and insights to the table that no Google analytics study can provide. Jack Marshall of Digiday even argues that the role of Big Data has been overstated because the numbers ultimately belong to clients, not agencies (and that the whole thing is really an accounting issue).

Back to our main query: how dramatic will the change be for PR?

For all this talk of size and influence, both Publicis and Omnicom are firmly established companies that won’t be growing dramatically anytime soon. We already mentioned the possibility that a few clients will jump ship in the interest of shopping around and finding agencies that better serve their individual needs. Edelman also believes that top talent will find reasons to leave these massive conglomerates in search of opportunities to gain more creative freedom and strategic influence.

Digiday‘s Brian Morrisey believes that, contrary to industry concerns, the move will help indie/boutique agencies stand out even more clearly against the “lumbering” holding companies set to reign over the future media landscape. Why? Because, as we wrote above, clients and quality creative work ultimately get the short end of the stick in this deal. Morrisey and Ian Schafer of Deep Focus even theorize that the merger might fail altogether.

Gini Dietrich of Arment Dietrich agrees that the move amounts to a big deal for PR, writing in Spin Sucks that the industry may play a larger role than expected in the near future. She argues that concern over client conflicts is overblown because competitors have always worked with the same firms. Independent agencies like Edelman and PadillaCRT also make for natural partners who ultimately share both goals and competitors (like WPP and Publicis Omnicom Group). In other words, the truly agile and insightful firms will win at the end of the day due to their ability to better serve clients without the bureaucratic headaches of massive holding companies.

So who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who has no idea what the hell it all means? Let us know what you think.

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