Mindshare Group Photo

Bronze — Mindshare

Mindshare has had a successful year in which it produced standout work for brands like HSBC and Hellmann’s, and won new accounts including Boehringer Ingelheim, Movie Central, HBO brands and Randstad, and capped it all off with a Media Agency of the Year Bronze win. It’s the agency’s first return to the podium since it nabbed Silver in 2006.

Digital is a priority for the agency and for some time now it has been ensuring that staffers are equipped to help boost its digital depth. Mindshare got the jump on this about seven years ago when it seeded digital expertise throughout its Toronto, Montreal and Calgary offices, but it’s a constant focus to keep evolving.

“We called it ‘digital bridging,’” says Karen Nayler, 30-year media vet and Mindshare’s long-time president. “We had our silos and we realized it wasn’t going to work, so we cut bait. We said, ‘that’s it, every planner in the shop, we’re going to train you [in digital] and you’re all going to do it now.’ It was the only way of getting it out of becoming a line item, and it worked beautifully.”

Given the speed with which digital platforms have evolved, Nayler says the agency is a bit of a hybrid, with digital generalists as well as experts that infuse what they know back into the team. In this new content and tech-driven mediascape she says that finding and cultivating talent is a priority: “talent’s what it’s all about.” The one silver lining of the sad economy elsewhere in the world, notes Nayler, has been that overseas recruitment has been easier. She’s had success talent farming in Europe where, in the U.K. in particular, the media model is close to that of Canada.

A challenge for Mindshare now is aligning its brands with how consumers are digesting content – where and when they want to.

“It’s about finding the intersection between the brand, the content and the consumer, and it’s got to be relevant,” says Nayler, adding that in many cases it’s media based on greater platform understanding, and that has enabled the shop to often take the lead on inter-agency teams working with mutual clients.

Mindshare is also working with specialist partners to ensure it stays on top of emerging platforms. For instance, it’s pulled in online gaming company Wild Tangent for gaming content. It’s a focus reflected in Mindshare’s upper echelons, with its North American head office recently naming former Mindshare Interactive associate director, gaming strategy, Geoffrey Greenblatt as its director of gaming, a newly created remit. Social and mobile are also areas where Mindshare is currently making significant forays.

Going forward, Nayler says Mindshare must ensure that it feeds really good content across platforms, adding that there is lots of opportunity to do so.

“The neat thing with the choices we have now is that the technology opportunities are just massive,” says Nayler, adding, “A lot of these players haven’t even thought of the marketing opportunities.”

Further to that, a big focus for the agency will be going deeper with clients than it has ever gone before due to its content/context expertise, but also developing analytics to help identify what’s working in the newer areas without proven metrics.

Group M company Xaxis, a New York-based behavioural targeting and database-management company, has “taken on more bandwidth” and is “really going to be a hub for us in terms of analytics,” says Nayler. Mindshare’s Canadian teams will make sure that Canadian databases are feeding into this resource.

The Holy Grail, says Nayler, is to discover what she refers to as the “waterwheel algorithm,” an accurate, measurable understanding of the correlation between paid, owned and earned media.

“Where we need to get to is the

long-term value of advocacy,” says Nayler. “That’s the tougher measure, and it will vary by campaign – and then the challenge is, how do we track that advocate and keep them engaged?”

Sounds like a job for a digitally bridged media agency.

The Facts

Staff: 190+

Offices: Toronto, Montreal, Calgary

New business: Boehringer Ingelheim, Corus Entertainment’s Movie Central, HBO brands and Randstad

Notable hires: Sheri Cooper, managing director, client leadership; Heather Dawson, director, invention; Tessa Ohlendorf, associate director, digital analytics