Former MRM/Digitas Guy Launches Pay-for-Performance Shop

By Matt Van Hoven 

Anders Ekman appears to be a real person. His work includes being an SVP at Digitas and EVP at MRM. And this week, he launched his own company, Performant LLC (an Inter/Media co.), which is totally going to DESTROY THE AD INDUSTRY with a pay-for-performance model. Watch out guys, this is happening.

Our first contact with Ekman’s company came when they pitched us, via press release, through our anonymous tips box. Here’s a taste of what this company offers (with notes, of course):

“In Performant, we have created something entirely new (ed: WHOA!)”  said Ekman, who serves as CEO, as well as co-founder. “Pay For Performance marketing has existed for years, yet large agencies have not yet embraced the techniques and technologies that can deliver truly accountable marketing to their clients (ed: Dude, there’s a reason for this). Our aim with Performant is to bring Pay For Performance into the mainstream. By combining the skills of Performant’s team with Inter/Media’s proven track record, proprietary media assets and analytic prowess, we’re able to offer these services at a high level from day one (::ed shakes head::).”


OK putting the release aside, it’s worth noting that these guys are trying to combine a creative and performance-based model. I can’t imagine it’s new, but this feels like one of those shops built by an account guy who knows how to keep a client happy – that is, by giving them what they want rather than what they need. You pull them in with promises of creativity-plus-accountability, and you’re setting yourself up for a tough go.

Performant’s edge, and their only one so far considering no creative name is mentioned, is Inter/Media’s tech, “that provides thorough media analytics that optimize advertising spending and media selection.” Right, now tell us the part where the work comes in. Who is going to want to work here knowing their primary mandate is numbers?

It’s not worth getting annoyed over this kind of trend, as much as many of you would like to. Gimmicks exist all over the place, and there are a few signs that this is one of them. From the client list, which consists of brands the Performant people (including their chief digital strategist, who comes from Saatchi) used to work on, to the overuse of the word “data”, well I just feel dirty reading it.