The news that mega ad companies Omnicom and Publicis would merge shook up the communications world a bit yesterday, and the New York Times even hinted Google may be in some peril ad-wise. But can even the biggest ad company on Earth really compete with Google in the digital world?
While the New York Times report attests to even huge companies now personalizing the “experience” of consumers, marginal digital engagement by these same entities says nothing about really being personal. In a coming age of ever more connected customers – we question the feasibility of advertising in broadcast only mode.
Theoretically, any conglomerate with enough cash and expertise can compete with any other entity. However, Microsoft, while not exactly the ad man himself, has been trying to edge Google out of share for over a decade. With potential and competitiveness in mind, I decided to take a look at Omnicom and Publicis via indicators of their “digital footprints” via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on might reveal strengths or weaknesses. Just how potent a challenge is Google, Facebook or any full digital player facing here?
With a Klout score of 63, Publicis is not breaking the sound barrier in social media circles.
Twitter – The broadcast only account has 20 something thousand followers, and basically listens to no one. And that’s not the funny social profile folks, half of the world’s biggest ad company has exactly 29 people adding them in G + circles. Huh? I added Publicis out of pity there. A Google digital takeover is not looking imminent here
Instagram – 123 posts – 331 followers – 38 following
Facebook – 257 likes · 11 talking about this · 46 were here, and they post when they feel like it apparently.
YouTube – While Publicis shows pages of extraordinary video channels for clients, their own channel has 4 videos with 700 something views. I had better check Vimeo or something, this has to be wrong.
Pinterest – 22 boards, this is scary sad. Say what?
As far as Publicis is concerned, claiming any sort of digital dominance is a bit of a joke in my view. And I do not mean this criticism to seem viscous. It’s just that companies with these types of resources have no excuses. Now on to the other half of this merger.
“Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) is a leading global advertising and marketing communications services company.” (from the corporate front page) At this top level, apparently the group does not need social media connectedness either as a branding facet, nor a real world communicative tool. But here’s where it gets interesting.
The PR facet of the group includes Fleishman Hillard, Ketchum, and Porter Novelli, and this does not take into account specialty PR entities like Brodeur Partners, Clark & Weinstock, Kreab Gavin Anderson, and Cone. These PR and communications agencies represent a substantial digital presence, one that far outweighs Publicis’ seeming anemic one.
Even despite the strength of Fleishman Hillard and other PR subsidiaries’ digital reach, the Publicis-Omnicom mega agency has scrarecly scratched the surface of capability. What I mean by this is, if we envision a larger entity with some sort of cohesive digital plan – and overall social reach, lets say….
— OmnicomMediaGroup (@OmnicomMediaGrp) October 10, 2011
One subsidiary for instance, @BBDOWorldwide, is the world’s most awarded ad agency. And true to their niche, the agency really does just “advertise” on Twitter to 51,000 followers. They follow 200 or so. Taken symbolically, this pretty much says; “We could care less about social media and what you think.” Having a flash website? That is irksome for anyone in the development-SEM or SEO world. Plus, if we wanted to get downright picky here, having a redirect loop at the Digital Lab that goes someplace unsupported by Google Chrome? Well, you get the point.
Pretty much down the line, even the casual observer will note the tier of companies under these brands paying lip service to the social media aspect of digital. While a deeper analysis might reveal wider and more broad reaching efforts at a real and cohesive involvement, the symbolic lack thereof is all that really matters at this point. Saying “we are the digital future”, and leaving off the most influential and significant segment in the last 20 years is – ludicrous.
What’s even more rediculous for anyone down here helping companies with virtually NO resources to match these firms, it’s downright pitiful. Looking right-down-the-line at random companies under Omnicom it almost seems there’s a corporate memo to just dabble in social – customer marketing agencies with only Twitter and Klout at 42?
“Javelin Marketing Group is a full-service customer marketing agency focused on making the brand promise personal, profitable and provable.”
At this point maybe I should offer our services?
Speaking of corporate, or speaking of digital dinosaur footprints, just one of Google’s Twitter accounts has six and a half million followers. Okay, they follow nearly nobody too, but it’s significant to have 6.5 million of anything. The one real weakness Google and Facebook have versus a mega ad player like Publicis – Omnicon is that the two biggest digital players are in effect silos themselves. What I mean is, each can only leverage just so much social clout before running into the other.
Ad wise online, Google only has to fear where all those ad dollars leveraged by this new corporate brand are spent. I would not be at all to see Bing and Yahoo! emerge with some heavy ad revenue in relation to what is being spent with Google by the various entities. The reallocation of ad spend somehow, now there’s a powerful lever.
Finally. What has always bothered me, from the prospective as someone who tests things and evaluates them, is the way companies with so much resource and potential fail miserably where complete competitiveness goes. What I mean is, either Publicis or Omnicon could have taken over social media at any point in time. Somehow the resources and the intent, they were simply not there. What this indicates for me personally, is old fashioned corporate thinking where the very sharpest edge of communicative excellence should be. And as a bit of an insider, I also know there’s been no lack of digital PR strategic advice sounded.
Should Google be afraid? Only if they are afraid of sleeping giants.
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