Publicis’ VivaKi Helping Agencies Go Digital

The nature of Publicis Groupe’s recently formed, multi-agency digital venture VivaKi is beginning to come into focus–and that focus appears to be on bringing the ad agency business’ multiple labor-intensive processes up to digital speed.

During a panel session on Sept. 21 at the MIXX 2.8 conference in New York, VivaKi managing partner David Kenny discussed some of the challenges that VivaKi, which represents a collaboration between Publicis shops Digitas, Starcom MediaVest, Denuo and ZenithOptimedia, is hoping to take on. Namely, digital media buyers are spending far too much time dealing with logistical tasks like billing, ad trafficking and reporting than actual media planning.

“We all hoped that the digital revolution would automate things,” he said. “Instead it got worse.” Kenny estimated that digital media planners can spend up to 40 percent of their work hours dealing with the sheer labor of implementing ad campaigns, which often consist of thousands of individual ad placements and dozens of insertion orders. Yet agencies are sometimes still using decades-old processes to handle basic paperwork, such as faxing in insertion orders.

“We all need to be less people intensive,” he said. “The market has shifted much faster than the talent.”

To help, VivaKi has turned to partners like Google–a company that some in the industry speculated that VivaKi was formed to match its clout. Yet fellow panelist Tim Armstrong, president, advertising and e-commerce, North America, & vp, Google revealed that both companies had recently undergone an employee exchange, during which staffers from each firm spent several weeks embedded within the other’s company. Both companies came away with ideas to streamline workload, according to Armstrong.

For example, the company was able to trim a common legal document used in media buying from a bulky 31 pages to a page and a half.

One thing that VivaKi learned from the exchange, according to Kenny, may have surprised some members of his team. “When you think of Google, you think of stock options and a cafeteria…but they work really hard there.”