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Omnicom, Publicis Merger Reveals Big Data's Influence on Ad Business

Omnicom, Publicis Merger Reveals Big Data's Influence on Ad Business
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Publicis Group CEO Maurice Levy (left) and Omnicom Group CEO John Wren.

The merger of advertising heavyweights Omnicom and Publicis spotlights how much Big Data has disrupted the traditional ad landscape.

In announcing plans Sunday for a $35.1 billion merger, old guard stalwarts Omnicom (founded in 1944) and Publicis (established 1926) indicated that they hope to be better equipped to participate in an industry that's quickly become dominated by data analysis and automated ad buying.

In a recent series of videos, took a look at advertising technology – the buzzworthy industry that's developed in large part because of consumers ' increasing use of smart phones and other mobiles devices. Advertisers now have the ability to deliver highly targeted ads to individuals over the Internet, using a treasure trove of data collected about that person's location, likes, age, gender and shopping preferences. Unlike, say, a splashy, expensive, static ad in a print magazine, today's ads served up on websites are super-customized, cheaper and sometimes updated in real-time (privacy concerns notwithstanding). 

All of that means the new giants in the field -- and a competitive threat to Ominicom and Publicis  -- are those with plenty of user data: Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, even and Adobe Systems. And the innovators are not Madison Avenue's traditional "Mad Men" but rather nimble entrepreneurs, who are hiring data scientists and engineers to invent new technologies to perfect digitally driven ads. "We're only literally 1% of where we can be," Nihal Mehta, an entrepreneur at New York ad-tech firm Local Response and an investor in ad tech, told us. "There is infinite innovation that's happening right now for the future of ad tech."

Watch our video below to hear more about how Big Data is shaking up the advertising industry.

Colleen DeBaise is special projects director at
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