UM Commits to Nine-Figure, Two-Year Deal with Facebook

Data, Premium-Video Inventory Access Are Key Components of Pact

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Credit: Meg Roussos/Bloomberg

Facebook has inked a nine-figure, two-year deal with Interpublic's media-buying shop UM.

The shop has committed to doubling its Facebook media buys as part of the deal that also includes access to data, custom research and premium video inventory. Under the terms of the pact, the agency also gets "preferred pricing," meaning its rates might be better than those offered to other shops but not exclusive, according to someone familiar with Facebook's agency deals.

The bulk of the dollars will come from client budgets that potentially would have been allocated to TV or online video, said UM head of media David Cohen.

"We've been reliant upon linear television for 60 years," he said. "We now have, over the past couple of years, seen online video start to take nibbles of that, but at scale high-quality video is still at a premium. Facebook video affords us an opportunity to reach that same level of audience, with demographic targeting, as television."

Access to Facebook's demographic data based on real registered users (as opposed to cookies), will be a key component of the deal, he said. The shop has long been reliant upon companies like Nielson that supply demographic data. "They're severely limited by their panel," he said. "[With Facebook] the kinds of reach we see over time at different levels of impression delivery is really interesting."

David Cohen
David Cohen

Greater access to premium video inventory was another top differentiator from the shop's recent relationship with Facebook, which hadn't gone much beyond individual buys on behalf of clients. Mr. Cohen said UM was recently one of two agencies that got a first crack at new video inventory -- a benefit he hopes will give his clients an edge over their competitors in the market. BMW and Sony Pictures Entertainment have both signed up for premium-video buys.

"Universal McCann has been a strong partner to Facebook as they help clients like Sony and BMW market in an increasingly digital and mobile landscape," said David Lawenda, head of U.S. global marketing solutions at Facebook. "This recent agreement is an opportunity to deepen our dialogue and formalize a long term plan."

The deal comes on the heels of the departure of UM's U.S. CEO Sarah Personette, who left to rejoin Facebook in a top agency role. Prior to joining UM early last year, she was Facebook's global agency team director.

Nearly every large media agency has inked at least one comprehensive deal with a digital-media company to lock in good rates and gain access to data and insights. But more recently these agency-customized deals have grown into holding company-level pacts with digital media groups. Omnicom inked a deal with Instagram in which its media and creative agencies would commit to inventory and gain access to the photo-sharing platform's inventory, staff and insights. Publicis Groupe entered into a similar agreement with parent Facebook, also including Instagram benefits.

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