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Global Ad Buys Might Finally Become a Reality

Marketing across borders

When the holding companies Publicis and Omnicom announced last month they were joining forces to form the world’s largest ad agency group, they called it “a new company for a new world.” Other, hyperbolic terms used to describe the mega merger included “stunning,” “seismic,” “a superstructure”—and that was just our own reporting.

In reality, the concept of global marketing is not so earth-shattering. It’s been around since the first merchant went to sell his goods abroad. Yet on a larger scale, global marketing has been much more challenging—borders have proven to be barriers. And yet, OmniPub is just the latest evidence that the global media buy may be becoming more of a reality.

“We can now reach consumers globally and get feedback globally,” IAB president and CEO Randall Rothenberg points out. “Now, fact meets a 30-year-old theory,” he says, referring to the rise of the idea in the ’80s that in the age of the multinational corporation and the homogenized consumer, marketers could (cheaply) sell the world the same product with the same message—an idea that would prove easier said than done.

Marketers would come to realize the monolithic global consumer segment had its limits, as brands found that translating ad campaigns into other cultures required more local understanding than they had anticipated. And even if marketers were set up to buy globally, media weren’t. Global media conglomerates owned individual properties that were local, regional or national, and buying remained a market-by-market transaction.

Enter global digital giants Facebook and Google, enabling marketers like Nestlé and Nike to reach a wide swath of consumers. And those properties don’t just afford scale—with their reams of consumer data, marketers found they could pinpoint customers and update their messaging in real time.

Top brands like Samsung, Nike and L’Oréal are already immersed in digital as a means of getting their messages out across borders. Most every marketer is at least dipping a toe in. “Client after client, there’s discussion of global media,” says Eric Bader, CMO of RadiumOne, speaking of his previous stint at Initiative. “They want to lower the cost of putting their message in front of consumers. That’s what every CEO is tasked to do.”

Whether it’s a new car or motion picture being marketed, digital offers scale and targeting, points out Carolyn Everson, vp, global marketing solutions at Facebook. “Some of the only ways to reach people in the Philippines is on their mobile device,” she says.

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