Former Mars Exec Bob DeSena Joins Mediaedge:cia

New Role to Focus on Active Engagement

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NEW YORK ( -- Industry veteran Bob DeSena, known for his involvement on the hot-button issue of engagement, has joined WPP Group's Mediaedge:cia as director of active engagement, a newly created role at the media agency.
Bob DeSena
Bob DeSena

He reports to Mediaedge's global chairman, Charles Courtier, and oversees the agency's efforts in analytics, insights, return on investment and communications planning across North America.

Seeing the light
Discussions between Mr. Courtier and Mr. DeSena started several months ago, according to both, after Mr. Courtier heard Mr. DeSena speak on the topic of engagement. "We heard him at a conference and a light bulb went off," Mr. Courtier said. "We realized what he's talking about and what we're talking about are one and the same thing. The industry talks a lot about active engagement, and we're actually going to do it."

Mr. DeSena has been an active participant in a research initiative dubbed MI4, short for Measurement Initiative: Advertisers, Agencies, Media and Researchers, a joint effort by the Advertising Research Foundation, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and the Association of National Advertisers, to define the term "engagement" and to develop a cost-per-engagement metric.

Mediaedge wants to be known as the agency that provides active consumer engagement for its marketer clients, allowing them to identify and influence audiences across all contact points while also providing measurable results.

Mr. DeSena started his job at Mediaedge this week. From a hotel room in Warsaw, Poland, where he was attending a meeting of the agency's MediaLab global management, he explained why he joined the agency.

The elements of engagement
"I've been doing a good deal of work on the client side and in industry on engagement. I honestly think engagement combines the core of the next marketing model -- the core elements being brand marketing, direct marketing and digital platforms," he said. "When I began to see what Mediaedge was doing in defining engagement, I realized our philosophies are very close."

He will work with each of Mediaedge's client teams to ensure that clients benefit from the agency's resources in analytics, consumer insights, ROI modeling and the group's work in channel planning. "Essentially, we're trying to operationalize active engagement," he said.

Most recently, Mr. DeSena started the consultancy Engagement Marketing Group in New York. Until February, he was managing director of Mars Direct, a free-standing unit within Masterfoods USA. Prior to that, he was director-relationship marketing at Masterfoods USA. He began his career in advertising at Wunderman, the direct-marketing agency, then in the 1980s moved to the client side, taking jobs at Time Life Inc. prior to joining Mars/Masterfoods.
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