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EXCLUSIVE: Zenith’s global president talks data and ROI

Vittorio_Bonori Zenith


EXCLUSIVE: Zenith’s global president talks data and ROI

Starting as media research director at Optimedia Italy in 1995, Vittorio Bonori has spent the last 23 years with the Groupe, moving into his most recent role in 2016. Who better than a former data analyst and statistician to now lead the ROI agency as its global brand president? We caught up with Bonori to talk data and ROI among other things.

Zenith has branded itself as a ‘ROI agency’. What does this really mean?

For us, ROI is driving top line growth. For too long, the industry has been focused on driving efficiencies to ensure returns, but this is not sustainable. If we are to drive sustainable ROI, we have to invest in inventive and creative brand building communications that drive measurable brand growth. That is true ROI. Our clients are going through dramatic changes driven by new consumer behaviors, New agile/challenger brands entering the market and technological transformation. They need a partner that has a full perspective of the new consumer journey. They need a partner who can respond to business challenges with transformational changes.

READ: These formats will drive growth in 2019

We’ve been the ROI agency since 2003, but we needed to evolve our proposition and way of working to respond to these client challenges. Our new proposition is very clear: we blend data, technology and brilliant specialists to scout new opportunities, solve complex challenges and grow client business. We deliver on this with a new way of working, called ROI+, which has three areas of client focus: upstream strategy, orchestrating the consumer journey and downstream automation.

What’s the role of Zenith within Publicis Media i.e. where does it sit among other agencies and to what extent does it work with agencies on pitches and existing work?

Zenith is one of the leading brands within Publicis Media, which was created to ensure that all of the Groupe’s media businesses work together to drive best practice, share resources (particularly technology) and avoid unnecessary duplication. This is now working very well.

However, while we are now working in a more collaborative way, the [agency] brands have separate identities, networks and clients. As brands, we work independently of each other on clients and pitches.

Clearly data has a massive role to play today especially in media. How much is too much? Is there such a thing as being over-reliant on data and what are the potential dangers of doing so?

Data is critical in communications. We need data for all areas of intelligence: business, consumer, and industry. Data is what fuels our insights, helps us to devise creative and inventive solutions and, ultimately, is one of the key drivers of ROI. If you are working in the right way and focus on the right things, you can’t have too much data. The key is to have the right tools and processes so that you can understand the data and use the insights in the right way. Data doesn’t control what we do; it informs the decisions we make.

As Global President, you overlook various markets. How does the Middle East compare to other markets?

First, there just isn’t as much advertising in MENA as there is in the US and the UK. Just 0.1 percent of the economy is spent on advertising in MENA, compared to one percent in the US and 0.9 percent in the UK.

READ: Publicis Groupe creates new agency for this auto client

There is a huge opportunity for ad market growth in MENA. However, MENA is pretty much even with the US in its adoption of digital advertising – digital accounts for 37 percent of ad spend in MENA, compared to 38 percent in the US. The UK is well ahead with digital at 60 percent, but then the UK is ahead of every market except Sweden. Interestingly, cinema advertising is stronger in MENA than anywhere else in the world, accounting for four percent of ad spend, compared to one percent in the UK and 0.5 percent in the US.

Within the Middle East, what are the country-specific nuances you’re seeing?

From Zenith’s Adspend Forecast, we can see that people in Saudi Arabia are the heaviest users of the Internet, but people in the UAE are the keenest viewers of online video, with nearly as many regular online video viewers as regular TV viewers. People in the UAE are also most likely to use smartphones to access the Internet, followed closely by people in Qatar. People in the UAE and Qatar are also the keenest users of Facebook, with more than 80 percent of the population signed up.

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We’ve also observed that YouTube is a Middle East phenomenon with KSA being the channel’s largest market (per capita). YouTube Monthly Online Reach in KSA is 96 percent with two hours of videos uploaded every minute. Social influencers continue to grow across Middle East markets with a constantly growing fan base.

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