We all need to ‘Grow’ up – Don’t forget yourself.

When you take a step back and really assess how you spend your day, it is clear that most of us fail in investing in ourselves. More importantly as leaders of teams and organizations just when we need our own selfs to be in the best shape, it gets harder to do and less focused on. Well I was lucky enough to join 30-40 other people from across the media agency landscape on a two day session organized by AOL. The programme was supported by some incredible people like David Bell – a legend of the industry (ex IPG), Jim Stengel – ex CMO of P&G and guest appearances from Tim Armstrong, fresh back from a run in Santa Monica and Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever.

Two days spent with leaders from across the media agency landscape, reflecting, discussing, debating and laughing about our industry. The sessions covered many topics from mindfulness to pitching, to self improvement and more. One thing that struck me above almost all, we don’t invest in ourselves enough and these two days, unexpectedly brought me to think more about what I am and do than perhaps any other in recent memory.

Through the two days we had a chance to reflect on what we do, how we do it, what our bosses do and how they do it. We had the chance to discuss some gritty industry issues and the implications for all of us, and we had to put to test some things I would probably have never done myself – practicing mindfulness routines for one! The whole time you were thinking and listening to all these industry greats and they focused the mind. We heard from all of them and their routines and there were some constants. Some constants that we all agreed we don’t follow ourselves well enough, but if we don’t do it for ourselves, how can we inspire others to do the same and succeed in their own right. About now I could write one of those LinkedIn posts ‘ten things successful people do’ because we heard from a number of them. The fact that Tim Armstrong fitted a session in with us on Skype between a run and board meeting said it all! I won’t though because I am certain more of you on both sides of the Atlantic will be doing these sessions and I don’t want to ruin it for you!

Everyone was encouraged to think about what they would change as soon as they got back to the office, and everyone took different things out of the two days but for me it was clear that we must act, we must all move from talking, thinking, suggesting to acting both personally and from a business perspective. Being deliberate as one member mentioned made a lot of sense, have a plan and stick do it, especially around the areas of health, holidays and giving oneself time to think. I enjoy exercise and it is important to me for my own mindset and well being in life. As Keith Weed said, you have to do what helps you whether it’s sleep, exercise or anything else, if it makes you operate better then you should do it. Too often I hear people feel guilty about going to the gym or people are quick as they go off on holiday to say ‘they will be on email’ no. Go have a break it is good for you and good for your teams.

As we moved through the sessions and the people in the room got to know each other better, to discuss more openly and I have no doubt have a warm bond with AOL and the team they brought in, it struck me how smart AOL had been. They were investing in us, more so probably than many people had had from their own businesses as regards their own self improvement. We spend so much time focused on others, we forget ourselves and the message was loud and clear – that has to change.  Importantly it also made me think about our own relationship with our clients. We do education days, we do news letters and trips to Silicon Valley and so on but I am pretty certain that we have not invested in our clients as we experienced over the last two days and that is an important point. As agencies we have to adapt, structure and restructure to keep up with everything around us but we have to bring value at all times to our advertisers and really invest in them as people as well as businesses if we want to build relationships and have a top table seat.

My head continues to whirl with ideas and I am still scribbling ideas, I have some homework to do as well which I really look forward to doing, that must be a good sign! If you are invited to attend the next AOL ‘Grow’ I recommend it, as a cynic about most courses, I can say this one will help you Grow.

PS – please make sure to ask people one thing that may not be known about them and to share. In our small room we had heroes, hostages, police cell dwellers, a man who had been trapped in a lift with Michael Jackson and more..

A few months in photos..#VivaKi


Welcome to some photos of the last few months to liven up my blog. It has been a crazy few months but incredibly exciting and met some very cool and bright people that make life os interesting.


The first sights of Cannes, the main event and the Publicis entrance..one was visited more than the other..


Power ladies on one panel – Carolyn Everson of Facebook, Laura Desmond of SMG, Erin Clift of Spotify and Wendy of Coca Cola – not bad..


The juxtaposition of the classy Seb Fontaine against the Gutter Bar, we did both very well, great night with Spotify.




The Rubicon Panel at Le Rooftop, Cannes, the worlds leaders of Trade desks talking the talk. It was hot!



The Eden Roc outside of Cannes, beautiful spot for an evening meal with a few old friends, colleagues and new friends




Doubleclick Client Advisory Board in Los Angeles – St Regis. Amazing venue and more announcements from Google. I also had my five minutes in the spot light!

20130621-235908.jpg20130621-235852.jpgOne of the greatest runs for a hangover cure, down by Dana Point



Google Zeitgeist – the amazing collection of people, politicians, genius types, robots and Jesse J – standard!


Publicis Investor Day – the great and good of Publicis all at LBi


CES – More to add here but suffice to say this was the hardest bit to get through


My Media Week

My Media Week: Marco Bertozzi

Hayley Pinkerfield, 21 March 2012, 3:15pm

This week Marco Bertozzi, managing director EMEA for the VivaKi Nerve Center, visits Spain, plays squash with Greg Grimmer, and teeters on the wrong side of The Thin Blue Line. Link here



Every day starts pretty much the same as every other day, and has done for the last two years. Baby cries, cats miaow, I wake up and reach for the BlackBerry or iPhone to check what my US colleagues have been emailing about through the night, or to see how late people have been out and posting messages from all corners of Soho Land.

From that point in though, every day is very different. Which is a good thing, as variety is one of the things I enjoy most about working at the VivaKi Nerve Center.

I start today by catching up with Publicis’ global Google lead Simon Birkenhead to discuss what’s going on across the business. In fact, today is a day of meetings with our global partners, as I later met up with our new global lead from Microsoft, Nicole. It’s a tough gig understanding such a complex business and I wish her luck.

An afternoon of calls and a couple of quick meetings, then it’s off for my weekly punishment in the form of a personal training session.


I am down to present at an IAA event on the ‘Future of Media’. I expected it to be a relatively small affair, but it turns out to be a big event in a grand venue at Bloomberg (I make a mental note to thank my head of communications, Claire, for the heads-up.)

I think it goes OK, although I might have alienated all of the women in the audience when I described women as waste in the context of a specific audience targeting example – I was misunderstood!

Jump on my scooter to have a catch-up with Steve King, worldwide chief executive of ZenithOptimedia, which always turns out to be an interesting and entertaining discussion.

After about a year of organising, I finally managed to have a quick lunch with Chris Mellish of Razorfish. As well as working with ZenithOptimedia and Starcom MediaVest Group, the Nerve Center works closely with Razorfish and Digitas, and it’s always good to hear what they are up to.

Later on, I also catch up with Olivia Yabsley who runs content for Digitas, to round out the group in a day.

With a couple of client sessions fast approaching on the world of exchanges and some prep for our regular EMEA AOD (our proprietary addressable media capability) call, I sit quietly at my desk and nail some work before home time.


A sickeningly early start – I’m up and out of the house by 4.30am to go to Madrid with my boss Curt Hecht, global chief executive of the VivaKi Nerve Center.

We have a full day of meetings with the management of VivaKi, ZenithOptimedia, Performics and Starcom MediaVest Group, to go through the VivaKi plans. The Spanish guys are always open and enthusiastic and a pleasure to work with, they also lay on a great lunch in the office. It makes our spread look pretty shoddy.

We’re close to launching the results from the UK rollout of The Pool, a global research project to identify the industry’s optimal online advertising model, and I share progress with everyone. The results are in line with the other markets, which is hugely encouraging.

So six hours later, we run for the airport and get back on the plane. I have done a lot of travel over the last two years and it is still enjoyable, but I guess one day it will drag. I never enjoy being away from my wife and child too much though.


A morning thrashing Greg Grimmer at squash. Sorry, I should say getting a thrashing from Greg Grimmer. This week, however, I have bought a new racket and trainers – so his days are numbered.

Later today, the UK leads for AOD Activation, Geoff Smith, and AOD Product, Paul Silver, and I have our monthly catch-up with the ZenithOptimedia and SMG trading guys. It is usually part presentation, part piss-take of each other. Mauricio Leon and John Baylon are not wallflowers, so you have to give as good as you get!

We’re celebrating today as AOD has achieved an incredible milestone and delivered 100 billion impressions. And that’s just in the US and UK. No mean feat given it didn’t exist at the beginning of 2008.

In the evening I head to the leaving do of my good friend Phil Christer, who has recently moved to Google. Phil has kept me sane on many occasions and I know he’ll do great things in his new job.


Today does not start brilliantly. I am pulled over by two police motorbike riders who have been tailing me for the last mile. Shame I hadn’t noticed them in my mirrors sooner because I realise I’ve just performed some of my most reckless scooter-riding of the last few years.

Mounting a pavement, running a very close amber/red, doing 40mph on Tottenham Court Road, with some weaving thrown in, all mean I am up the creek.

After immense contrition from me and puppy-dog eyes, they unbelievably let me off. I get into work pretty happy and thankfully things pick up after that.

I have a good catch-up with Iain Jacob of Starcom MediaVest Group around the VivaKi Nerve Center and SMG progresses across the wider EMEA region. It’s important to make sure that we are lined up with the senior agency regional and global leads as we expand in terms of products and scale.

Lunch is with our tech partner on Audience On Demand video (AODv) and another expansion discussion as AODv rolls out into more European countries. Creating publisher uptake of this new way of buying video is top of the agenda.

It’s a great lunch, but I’m glad to leave – the downstairs of Navarros always smells of bleach. A productive afternoon of clearing emails and a bit of Twitter banter and my week ends with a very cautious scooter ride home. I’m determined not to get pulled over by the police again – well, at least for a couple of days.

Audience On Demand is hiring..

VivaKi Nerve Center launched Audience On Demand in the US back in 2008, launched in London in 2010. Now the UK’s largest trading desk is looking to add to the team as we grow month on month working with some of the UK’s largest advertisers. We work with Starcom Mediavest, ZenithOptimedia and Razorfish teams and are the most lined up agency group in the UK with full support from the agency brands and our success reflects that.

Paul Silver Heads up the Audience On Demand Product and is one of the most respected people in the industry and he will be joined by the Head of Activation on Monday Geoff Smith, current Head of Technology at MEC, it’s a dream team backed by a number of activation and analyst team members and together we are really making great strides in the market place. If you want to work on private marketplaces, scale plays, strategies across the exchange space then you should contact me or Paul.

Bored at an Ad Network, or worrying about their future? Perhaps at another agency Group but struggling against constant resistance and confusion, maybe in a ‘specialist outfit’ but seeing just how restricting and myopic that can be? Want to work for a team that works openly and collaboratively with publishers then email us..

We look forward to hearing from you!

Balancing short term demands with long term strategy

As the digital landscape evolves so the companies within it have to adapt as well, but actually we all live in a short term world. Both publishers and agencies have their work cut out for different reasons but all too often good strategic decisions are being strangled by short term demands. This challenge has never been more obvious than right now.

I have been talking daily to organisations both in our group and externally about how we plan and adapt for the future, we can all see the major digital portals for instance having to sit and scratch their heads a little about dealing with the here and now but planning for the future. Take a Yahoo or a Microsoft, they have both embraced the new world of exchanges and yet somehow want or need to protect their network offerings, the two don’t sit easily in reality. As strategies they should be rewarded in their approach of embracing the exchange world, but instead they are under pressure to deliver their targets based on a 2010 estimation, when the world was entirely different. Was it that different? Were we not all talking about exchanges etc back then? Well yes we were but the spend was not backing up the rhetoric, 2011 is a different story. Audience On Demand, as the biggest exchange trader in the UK has accelerated incredibly, and that growth is having an impact. Look at Specific Media who but a year ago was recruiting staff and buying Myspace and a few short months later is making redundancies, that’s how quickly things move.

We are though at a juncture, and it’s for that reason we need some patience from the bean counters. 2010 did not properly represent the Exchange growth, 2011 is closer to the truth but 2012 will be big. As the long tail of Ad Nets is absorbed into the more focused addressable media hubs and digital consolidation continues, the likes of the Yahoo or Microsofts will begin to see the benefits of the exchange infrastructure and will be able to let go of the old DR network approach. They will start to reap the spends that once went to the Ad Nets, but this time via exchanges.

It is refreshing to see the strategy Yahoo are playing out in the us. There was an article today in fact on this in Adage – click here. They are going to take a hit in the US with their strategy of blocking the Ad Nets, Criteos and others from buying their inventory. Yes short term that is going to hurt them, longer term its a great move and will pay back undoubtedly. We are seeing a significant adjustment in the digital ecosystem.

Agencies are evaluating just as fast, less from a revenue perspective, more from a structural perspective. If you designed an agency today, would you do it the same? I doubt it and yet the upheaval required sometimes makes people think twice and come up with a number of reasons why they should not do something even though in the longer run it makes perfect sense. This requirement to change however on agencies and publishers comes from a number of key trends;

consolidation of digital, we have all seen the stats that show the big digital companies control a huge percentage of the total spend and audience, even within the exchange space you are dealing with a few big partners. I believe that clients are starting to see a new digital landscape that is not 40 sites on a plan. They are realising that actually they can achieve almost all they need with API buying, Audience On Demand and Search, its a shift, everyone is looking for scale and efficiencies.

Globalisation of media and advertising. Most pitches are becoming global, not all, the recent in for ZenithOptimedia of RBS proves that, but many are. As such as the clients think more globally then they look to the agencies to do the same, and the more you think like that the more the scale partners of Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Facebook etc become important to them and us.

Commoditisation drives value. This is an interesting development for me. Years of being told by Microsoft and Yahoo etc that their inventory is ‘premium’ has rarely been backed up by any real insight except their own research. Now we have commoditisated huge swathes of inventory through DSPs and exchanges we are being able to see what value inventory has and what performs. We see the volumes of money we spend with these companies through the DSPs and what eCPM we pay for them, none of this is determined by a person or a power point slide or negotiation. Tech has decided, results have decided and demand has decided and the patterns are very interesting indeed. After millions of pounds of spend through Audience On Demand we now see the true value of inventory and yet it has never been more commoditised.

Technology is in fashion. Of course tech has always been in fashion but never more so than now. It has been developed for agencies in a meaniful way. Demand Side Platforms for exchange trading, Bid optimisation platforms for search and API buying, these things have been designed to help us drive efficiencies and improve performance and we really see the opportunity now. It’s brutally competitive though and VivaKi have decided to work with the best partners and then develop tech that links all those partners up providing an interface to work with, this we see as the great opportunity, if you then add that to new streamlined teams and workflow, you have a heady mix that can deliver fantastic performance and service.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a lot to do and we need more people to take up the challenge and either drive the change through their organisations or give the people who have to do it a break so they can work through this transition. The end result though is the ship has sailed, the change is underway and we need to embrace it or become a dinosaur.

Smart Agencies Understand the Partnership Imperative

In the time I have been writing for this blog, I have worked substantially with Google. The VivaKi Nerve Center are tasked with identifying key partners in their role of being the future facing R&D division of VivaKi. Google are one of our major Partners and because of this I invited Google to write my 100th blog post and to talk about the importance of partnership in this new media landscape that is evolving into a tech driven business rather than just a media one.

Simon Birkenhead of Google, Global Agency Leader for Publicis has kindly submitted the below post and I must thank Simon and the brave Comms team down at Google for letting him loose on my amateur blog!

Smart Agencies understand the Partnership Imperative

In January 2008, Maurice Levy, CEO of Publicis Groupe, and Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, shook hands on the terrace of the Publicis building overlooking the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Their agreement, to join forces and partner in the deployment of new digital advertising technologies, kickstarted a radical transformation in the way that large agencies work with technology companies.

For decades agencies have been the masters of delivering effective advertising campaigns at the best possible value for their clients. A key strategy to achieve this was to maintain an arm’s length (some would say, adversarial) relationship with media owners to preserve objectivity and a strong negotiating position. The slow pace of true innovation in traditional media meant there was little pressure for this to change: agencies’ fluency in offline media required little 2-way interaction with media owners beyond discussions over pricing and tactical proposals.

However, the explosive growth of digital marketing over the past decade, and the associated emergence of Silicon Valley’s fast-moving technology companies, has instigated an urgent reappraisal of this adversarial mindset by the leaders of the world’s largest agencies. The increasing importance of data analytics as a key component of agencies’ service offering, combined with the lightning-paced evolution and technical complexity of the new digital marketing platforms, means that a closer working dynamic with technology companies is no longer an experimental initiative, it has become a business imperative.

When Maurice met with Eric in Paris in January 2008, which was also around the time I joined Google, Google’s product suite was largely limited to Search and our display network. Just three and a half years later, the conversations I have with agencies now cover mobile, online video, social, ad exchanges, global ad-serving platforms, rich media advertising, DSPs, analytics, real-time insights tools, data platforms and even enterprise software.

The pace & scale of change is truly mind-blowing:
● In 2008 Search accounted for just 3% of all media investment in the US and Western Europe. Just 3 years later this has tripled to ~9%. In UK, Search now represents at least 15% of all ad spend.
● Android has grown from zero to over 550,000 new activations per day in 3 years and, with iOS, is radically transforming how advertisers can engage with customers through mobile devices
● YouTube now streams 3 billion video views per day, double the volume just 18 months ago
● Facebook, Twitter & Google+ together have close to 1BN users globally, 50% of whom log on every day, half of these through mobiles
● In just 18 months, Ad Exchanges, DSPs and Agency Trading Desks have revolutionized the way display media is bought, challenging the business models for hundreds of existing display networks
● Google announced over 350 major new products or feature changes over the last 12 months alone, an average 7 per week. (To see what these were, visit http://www.google.com/newproducts)

As a Googler, with full access to our internal resources, it is a huge challenge to maintain my own knowledge of all these technologies and the associated opportunities they afford marketers and agencies. For agency account leaders, planners and buyers, who also have to be fluent in a similar suite of products from dozens of other digital companies in addition to all forms of traditional media, it has become truly impossible to remain true media ‘experts’. Every new layer of complexity created by technology evolution creates an even deeper requirement to nurture and build strong external partnerships. As Rishad Tobaccowala of VivaKi recently commented, “The world is too complex and moving too fast for any one company or team to do it all. We need to train people who are cross-bred and hybrid and who are willing to work together.” Tight-knit day-to-day collaboration at account team level with technology companies like Google have now become a necessity for agencies to keep up with all the potential options for connecting advertisers with their customers.

Many advertisers have also come to the same conclusion. A key component of many major media pitches recently has been the requirement for agencies to demonstrate the strength of their partnerships with Google and other players in the digital ecosystem, and how they can use these relationships to deliver additional value to their clients.

Smart agency leaders like Jack Klues, Laura Desmond and Steve King have realised that a close global partnership with Google would help their agencies to stay ahead. Today our global partnerships with VivaKi, Starcom Mediavest and ZenithOptimedia deliver immense value beyond the technology collaboration originally envisaged by Maurice & Eric in January 2008:
● Our industry experts provide deep insights into consumer & market trends that illuminate new consumer engagement opportunities for agencies, enabling their clients to lead rather than follow
● Our display, mobile & video experts work with agencies to create innovative, high impact campaigns for advertisers by pushing the boundaries of what is technologically possible
● Our product managers help agencies to understand and prepare for new marketing opportunities generated by technology change
● The joint research studies we publish each year with agencies deepen our understanding of consumer behaviour in this new digital realm and deliver the proof points needed to encourage advertisers to leverage these new opportunities
● Our training initiatives and digital media certification programmes, covering everyone from the top CEO to entry-level graduates, are helping the agencies to maximise the ROI from their digital campaigns and keep their teams operating efficiently and effectively
● Our ongoing partnership with VivaKi’s Audience on Demand trading desk is helping agencies & their clients to improve the performance of their digital campaigns through superior buying processes.

Yet despite all this, as I talk to agency leaders around the world, both inside & outside of Publicis, I still occasionally get asked what the value is to an agency from working with Google.

Agency leaders who have not yet figured this out, who are not actively encouraging their account teams to build a deep collaborative partnership with Google, may soon discover they are at a significant disadvantage to their competitors in this fast-changing market.

Simon Birkenhead is Google’s Global Business Leader for Publicis Groupe