Starcom MediaVest Group's content push

Media planning? Today's business is more about creating experiences for consumers, says Bruce Neve, CEO at Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG). That's why, he says, content is placed at the centre of more projects going out the door, some of which put the Publicis-owned agency back on the MAOY shortlist with a fourth place finish, a spot it last held in 2011.

For example, SMG worked with Blue Ant Media's Aux magazine to launch Samsung's Galaxy S4 this summer. The deal included launching the music magazine on Android phones and creating a branded content series around emerging artists.

Building out the amount of content at the agency meant hiring specialists in the field on most of SMG's teams, groups that have been growing overall with six top-level hires in the digital department this year. That growth began at the top with new SVP of digital media Jeff Thibodeau joining the department following six years at MediaCom Canada.

SMG is also working to build out its content across French Canada, announcing this spring that it is forming a strategic alliance with Montreal-based agency BCP to grow the media shop's capabilities and understanding of consumers in the Quebec marketplace. The new group is led by BCP's executive VP and general manager Carol-Ann Kairns, who is now also the executive VP of Starcom MediaVest Group Quebec.

"Aligning with BCP gives us deeper integration, insights into local consumers, and a more seamless capability to reach French-speaking audiences, which we can leverage to solidify our footprint in the Quebec market," said Neve.

A deeper understanding of its consumers is key to the agency creating meaningful experiences, and being part of a larger holding company (soon to be even larger with the Omnicom-Publicis merger), gives the group access to information around the world, Neve says.

"Access to worldwide research allows us to see things like millenials in Toronto being more similar to millenials in the U.K. or Australia than they are to older Canadians. Also, the kinds of global deals we can do with companies like Google or Facebook bring us opportunities that would be difficult to develop locally on our own."

Neve says that moving forward SMG will be digging even deeper into the possibilities that have opened up around connected consumers and the sheer amount of data they create.

"A lot of what we are doing in terms of collecting and generating the data that consumers are producing is just scratching the surface so far," he says.