Publicis Digital Shop Rokkan is the Latest Non-Media Shop to Start Buying Group

Comes as Distribution of Creative Content Becomes as Important as Content Itself

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Rokkan CEO John Noe
Rokkan CEO John Noe

Rokkan is the latest non-media agency to get into the media buying business, starting with three senior hires in New York.

Sean Miller, who had been group director of insights and planning at Interpublic's R/GA in New York, will lead Rokkan's new media group as senior VP of strategy. The shop also tapped Lindsay Williams, global brand director for Estee Lauder, as VP of media and analytics, and Joe Meanor, a group director at MRY, as VP of client partnerships.

"We're seeing a big emphasis and increased volume in terms of the asks we're getting to integrate media into the work we're doing," said Harley Block, senior VP of marketing and brand development at Rokkan.

It was also the obvious next step for the small digital shop, which Publicis acquired in December 2012. "A couple of months back we made a big push in social on all facets: publishing, social listening and editorial," said Rokkan CEO John Noe. "Now we have a solid and stable social group. This is our next step. It's a natural evolution building on top of what we have."

Lindsay Williams
Lindsay Williams

The move comes as clients consolidate more digital marketing tasks with agencies, and the distribution of creative content becomes as important as the content itself. Holding companies have moved to centralize digital media resources and offer access and discounted ad-tech contracts to the bulk of their non-media agencies. That has helped get some of those agencies into the buying game, but the shops still often prefer to do a bulk of the planning and buying on their own and invest in their own specialists.

IPG creative agency Campbell-Mithun created a media trading desk last year rather than relying solely on its parent company's central media hub. And Omnicom PR shop Ketchum more recently opened a digital buying group dubbed Agile Amplification.

"It's important that we're aligned to all these sources that Publicis has," said Mr. Noe. "There are also certain things we need to do on our own."

He said it's too early to tell how much the shop will rely on Publicis' ad tech contracts and central buying capabilities, such as the holding company's Audience on Demand trading desk, and how much it will build or contract itself.

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