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Agencies need client-centric focus

News, 19 April 2016

LONDON: Agencies need to adopt a more client-centric approach if they are to be successful according to the chairman and CEO of Interpublic.

Speaking at the first day of Advertising Week Europe, Michael Roth outlined the "open architecture" philosophy that he adopted when he moved over from the financial services industry.

And, he explained, that means not being focused on proprietary products. "Clients are entitled to the best we have to offer to meet their needs," he said, regardless of whether those services originate in-house or externally.

Roth's 11-year tenure at the helm of the agency holding company has seen the business turned around. In 2015 it reported financial results that exceeded the targets it had set and attributed this to its ability to support clients with customised solutions.

In the past, Roth noted, IPG's constituent businesses had been silo-ed and focused on their own results and not on the client. But from his position at the top of the structure it was all just accounting.

Silos are essentially just resources and he chooses to allocate profit and loss figures on the basis of which unit has contributed most effectively rather than financially. "I have the pencil and the eraser," he declared.

"And once people know that they're going to be rewarded for success notwithstanding the silo, they recognise it and they participate."

More importantly, the philosophy pays off with clients, who appreciate not being steered in a particular direction simply because of the financial needs of one agency unit.

"Clients love it because they know we are interested in their success, not just our own," Roth explained. "When they see you focused on their needs they become clients for life."

That extends to technology, Roth added, where Interpublic has chosen to remain an agency and not to become involved in selling digital advertising inventory.

"Clients know we're operating on their behalf," he said. "They don't have to worry about us selling inventory in which we have an economic interest."

Data sourced from Warc