Ken Nolan on how changes in media have defined Mindshare over two decades and how the GroupM agency shaped a new business model
When Mindshare Ireland first opened its doors in July 1999, the ambition was to bring scale and global leverage to help win local Irish business. While we certainly achieved this, it has been our work in driving change that has defined the agency’s position in the market over the past 20 years. It is our belief that we work in the most exciting industry on the planet.
That was as true then as it is now. Every aspect of human life has, and continues to be, transformed by changes in media. We are living in the most exciting period the world has ever seen. Within Mindshare, there is a belief that everything begins and ends in media. Today’s media has become democratised, with consumers having a greater say than ever.
They are busy creating, publishing, commenting, critiquing, consuming and sharing like never before. They have the power to move people, brands and corporations to action. It is the agency’s job to make sense of this new world and help navigate it; to leverage the joy and innovation that media still commands and turn it into a positive force for our clients.
In an industry where brands and identities are ever changing, the Mindshare moniker seems more fitting in 2019 than it did back in 1999. When the name Mindshare was first mooted, the focus was about ‘share of mind’, not ‘share of voice’. Today, at a point when our industry is undergoing significant change, the Mindshare brand’s foundation is even more relevant.
We understand that what clients want, need and value is changing fast. Media agencies still operate an old model which is not properly fit for today’s complex market. It must change. Our contribution to our clients’ businesses is still measured in old terms such as price, quality, access and delivery. A large part of our remuneration rests on an auditor’s report.
‘We work in the most exciting industry on the planet’ – Nolan
This definition of success is not always transparent and underpins an outdated approach. Our offering has become more commoditised. Clients have media agencies pigeon-holed solely in a media buying box. We need to break out of this thinking because the fact is we offer so much more. It means that we have to be more modular and flexible in our business model.
We need to push toward performance-based compensation, so we can drive and show real value for our clients. Then, and only then, will we be our clients’ trusted business partner. Despite all media agencies facing ongoing challenges, decline of traditional big brands’ ad spends, in-housing or direct buys, Mindshare still manages to record strong growth.
We are growing because we embrace change. In 1999, if you wanted a job in media you could be a planner or buyer. Now, you can oversee analytics, content development, research, insights, strategy, specialised buying, planning – the opportunities are endless and always evolving. It makes media an incredibly exciting and challenging industry in which to work.
There is nothing that does not exist within Mindshare, or within the broader GroupM Ireland network, that we cannot harness with the right leadership to drive digital and marketing transformation for our clients. Nothing underpins this better that the agency’s key specialist divisions covering Invention, Audiences & Insights and [m]Platform.
Our Invention team offers clients better, faster, more effective and impactful content. It is the hub of our agency’s creative thinking and brings together specialists in ideation, creation and activation. Invention helps to produce relevant content for specific audiences while at the same time meeting brand requirements and delivering effective partnerships.
These solutions include branded content, sponsorship, influencer marketing, experiential, digital marketing and social media. The team continues to deliver award winning work for clients and brings together the magic of creative and data across the marketing landscape.
Audiences & Insights is a team that live and breathe the Mindshare manifesto; the audience is our number one client. This core belief puts understanding people at the heart of our business, so we can uncover meaningful insights that deliver real business growth for brands. What began as a one-person research arm in 2010, has evolved into a team of four.
The growth has been organic, which is important because it is based on a desire and demand from brands to understand consumers. The team treat every brand challenge holistically, view media agnostically and have developed products ranging from segmentation to effectiveness studies to deep dive trend analysis. There is also capacity to conduct bespoke projects to deliver actionable results and find a solution that will help drive brand insights.
‘The audience is our number one client’
[m]Platform is built on a collection of proprietary applications designed to help marketers to better understand consumers, enable brands to engage with them more deeply and inform media investment more accurately. Our mission is to revolutionise how marketers engage with data and consumers. Today, one of the major threats to the wider marketing ecosystem is data being walled within the gardens of the big three – Amazon, Google and Facebook.
This, coupled with the need to understand more about consumers, has driven us to focus on our solution in Ireland. [m]Platform offers our clients the ability to access the best of local behavioural insight, combined with robust global panels like Kantar and GMI Lightspeed.
An agency fit for purpose: As a leader in Irish advertising, Mindshare works with Government departments, semi-State bodies and top brands. Clients range from Fáilte Ireland (above), Enterprise Ireland, Creative Ireland, Office of the Ombudsman (RefCom), through to Brennans Bread, Woodie’s DIY and Bord Gáis Energy, whose latest ads focus on customer incentives.
As client needs evolve and they seek answers built around new marketing technology, we are focusing on expanding these solutions to offer marketers a more modular and flexible output. It applies both to talent and technology, with a key focus on a performance-based view of everything we do within the business. On the opposite side of the communication journey is our data visualisation: [m]Report. It offers client-friendly, real-time customisable dashboards and provide access to the information clients need, combining media performance with metrics. While this is often talked about, it is not something anyone else can credibly offer.
The reason we can deliver this goes back to our global scale and support. Today, Mindshare is powered by a global network of 8,000 people in 116 offices and is also part of GroupM, the largest global media communications group with 29.9 per cent share ($48.3billion source: COMvergence 2018 – responsible for one in every three ads globally).
Our network was recently awarded the accolades of Media Network of the Year at Cannes Lions 2019, as well as the Festival of Media Global Agency Network of the Year 2019.
As a leader on the Irish advertising landscape, we also work with some of the largest local indigenous organisations, from Government departments, semi-State and top brands.
‘We need to retain that disruptive ethos’
Our clients range from Fáilte Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Creative Ireland, Office of the Ombudsman (RefCom), through to locally iconic brands like Brennans Bread, Woodie’s DIY and Bord Gáis Energy. Since 2009, WPP globally have invested over $1 billion in the data infrastructure used within [m]Platform. GroupM’s ability to bring this tech to Ireland provides our clients with an unrivalled level of insight into consumer activity and a unique platform to move away from generic media to consumers based on signals and intent.
Our agency model is robust because we thrive on embracing change. Our agency floor is constantly evolving. As market leaders we need to ensure for both our clients (existing and new) and our people (existing and new), that we are constantly challenging the status quo. We need to adapt to each advertiser’s needs. We need to retain that start-up mentality; that disruptive ethos that has driven our business so successfully for the past 20 years and bring it into the future. Our brand values of speed, teamwork and provocation are interwoven into the culture of the business. Our business has a burning drive to always improve, to always be better. Our ability to adapt and disrupt is the secret sauce that makes Mindshare so special.
While we are eager to mark this great milestone and to celebrate what we have achieved, we are also keen to look to the future – to the next two decades. It is important that we recognise the great clients, the amazing people and incredible partnerships that have made the first 20 years so special. What we are deeply excited about however is what is to come.
Our heritage is irrelevant if we not are relevant. This is our time. We will continue to change, to challenge, to evolve, to transform. We will continue to ensure that the audience is our number one client, our north star in a world that moves at the speed of culture.
Ken Nolan is chief operating officer at Mindshare