Mother launches a media agency in the U.S.

The agency aims to drive with strategy rather than a race to the bottom.

Mother on Friday launched a new media agency in the U.S. called Media by Mother, which will operate independently from the creative side of the business. 

The agency will be led by former WPP global head of media strategy David Gaines, who is founding partner and CEO, as well as ex-Accenture executive Will Heins, partner and COO. Both will report into Peter Ravailhe, CEO and partner at Mother U.S.

Mother began thinking about launching a media agency back in 2018 after noticing a “fundamental lack of respect” in the industry, Ravailhe said.

“There was misalignment of incentives because most media agencies were driven by a volume and tonnage game,” he explained. 

While scale still matters, access to data and talent that knows how to apply media strategy to drive business outcomes is more important in today’s fragmented media landscape. 

“Back in the day, that model made sense, because it was all about supply economy,” Gaines said. “But if you have a model built on moving a volume of cash through the agency, it’s hard to shift focus on people who can navigate, in a more complex world, which pieces of media will move the business versus the cheapest CPM.”

The agency — currently 14 people working across Mother’s New York and Los Angeles offices — aims to invest in talent over technology and bring on people from different backgrounds beyond agencies. The agency will focus on media planning, strategy and consultation, while outsourcing execution to tech platforms. 

Planners are also required to understand how buying on major platforms works, and will be bonused for gaining certifications on platforms such as Amazon and Google. 

“Our goal is to take strategy and planning out of that box and have it drive activation and deployment,” Heins explained. “We’re training more T-shaped skills for planning and strategy.”

While Media by Mother will operate independently from Mother, it will integrate and align strategy on certain accounts — for instance, driving a unified social media strategy from a paid and earned perspective. “We don't want a brief saying two different things in terms of what the ad is trying to solve and where to put it,” Heins said.

Mother believes it can sustain this new model from its position as an independent, as opposed to the holding companies, which are incentivized to create siloed specialty practices in order to increase headcount and revenue. 

“If we connect our strategy and planning to the activation platforms, and we deploy and adjust best practices based on performance, then we streamline a process that is very labor intensive and people heavy,” Heins said. 

But as the agency aims to elevate the role of media in marketers’ business strategies, it will have to convince them to look at media as an investment versus a cost-saving tactic. 

“CMOs spend less time on media [than anything], but it's their biggest cost,” Gaines said. “If there isn’t anybody helping them, they just rely on the ability to reduce CPMs.” 

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