Hill Holliday Spins Off Media Capability to Seize More Account Opportunities

Company Hopes Standalone Offering Will Lead to More Media-Only Business

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Karen Kaplan
Karen Kaplan

Interpublic Group of Cos.' creative shop Hill Holliday is digging its heels into media buying and planning, spinning off its in-house media capability into a standalone shop called Trilia.

"We're rebranding and repositioning our existing media offering to seize what we see as a market and growth opportunity," said CEO Karen Kaplan. "There are a ton of media-only reviews that we're not able to participate in because the media team is part of a creative agency."

The reason, she said, is because clients worry that including an agency known for its creative heritage (versus media) will make their existing creative agencies uncomfortable. "By forming an independent company, we'll hopefully be able to compete in more RFPs for more new business."

The group will comprise 140 existing buying and planning staffers from both Hill Holliday and the smaller media team at sibling shop Erwin Penland. The group has also made recent investments in programmatic-buying technology.

While the shop will tap into media analytics tools at Magna Global, the data and investment arm of IPG's media agency network, it will not be using its holding company's central trading desk, Cadreon. Rather, the company will continue to use its own automated-buying tools and people, said Ms. Kaplan.

But digital buying won't exist in isolation at Trilia. Leading up to the launch, the shop spent most of last year training its previously siloed media group, which has the biggest headcount within the agency, to do digital and traditional planning and buying, she said. "We went through what turned out to be a pretty challenging, work-intensive process of breaking silos down and retraining, so everyone could do everything," she said. The shop also recently invested in more talent to manage data-drvien audience buying, she said.

Among Hill Holliday's full-service and media-only clients are Dunkin' Donuts, Chili's and TJX Companies.

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