GroupM Buying Chief, TV Ad Vet Rino Scanzoni, Takes New Role in Restructuring

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Rino Scanzoni.
Rino Scanzoni. Credit: WPP
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WPP's GroupM division is reorganizing management as part of a bid to better unify media investment and platform services, the company said today. As part of the changes, GroupM Chief Investment Officer Rino Scanzoni is being named executive chairman and CEO at Midas Exchange, WPP's media bartering division, and Modi Media, the advanced advertising unit of GroupM in the U.S.

Mr. Scanzoni controlled nearly one-third of media spend worldwide and is considered "a leader in the industry in terms of trading," said Brian Lesser, CEO of GroupM North America. GroupM, the world's largest ad buyer, says it is responsible for one in three ads globally.

Lyle Schwartz, managing partner of research and marketplace analysis at GroupM, was named to assume Mr. Scanzoni's duties in the post of president of investment. With no direct trading or buying background, Mr. Schwartz's appointment represents a new era in media investment, one that's led by data and research. A GroupM spokesman said, however, that no one has made a trade without Mr. Schwartz's close involvement. "Without the data from his team, there is no footing to negotiate with intelligence," he said.

Mr. Schwartz will report directly to Mr. Lesser.

Mr. Schwartz, who has been at WPP in various capacities for more than three decades, is the first person with a research and analytics background to be named trading chief for a major media investment group. All North American investment team members across TV, digital, radio and local will report to Mr. Schwartz.

"Lyle represents where the business is going," Mr. Scanzoni said. "More and more it is about smartly using data to drive business results."

Mr. Scanzoni is one of the most recognizable and influential faces in TV advertising. He was at the forefront of the industry's adoption of C3, a metric for commercial viewing in the three days after a program airs, as well as the more recent move to C7 currency.

And it was Mr. Scanzoni who in 2003 placed AT&T in Fox's "American Idol." The sponsorship was groundbreaking in its own right, asking "Idol" viewers to text their votes at a time when text messaging was still nascent.

In his new role, Mr. Scanzoni continues to report to GroupM global CEO Kelly Clark, who returned to the media investment company in September after earlier serving as CEO of GroupM in North America from 2012 to 2015.

In addition to Mr. Scanzoni and Mr. Schwartz, MediaCom North American CEO Phil Cowdell has been named president of platform services for North America, a new unit that will be made up of programmatic media, search marketing, social media, digital operations and digital analytics. MediaCom North America will be led by U.S. CEO Sasha Savic and Canadian CEO Kevin Johnson. Mr. Cowdell will report to Mr. Lesser.

"These changes are always market-driven and they're always to service our clients better," said Mr. Lesser. "Our goal is to simplify our structure and unify similar services across the business so that our clients have the best resources available to them through their agencies."

Agencies within GroupM such as Mindshare, MEC, MediaCom, Maxus, Essence and M/SIX will be able to better access resources, data, technology and research for clients, but won't otherwise be affected, Mr. Lesser said.

At Modi in particular there is plenty of potential to grow, according to Mr. Scanzoni, especially in the addressable TV space, which allows marketers to deliver ads to specific consumers at a household level and is the unit's biggest revenue driver. Addressable advertising household penetration could hit 70% next year, making it more compelling for clients that want big reach, he said.

While Mr. Scanzoni said he will still be involved in setting the overall strategy for GroupM's investment unit and will continue to be a presence during TV upfront negotiations, he will no longer be working directly with GroupM clients on a day-to-day basis.