Futurists Seek Out New Ad Models

Bant Breen is on the hunt for “intrapreneurs,” startup-minded innovators armed with disruptive ideas, who are lurking within Interpublic Group.

The 35-year-old was recently appointed president of IPG’s Futures Marketing Group, one of several digital “futures” units being created within ad holding companies to look for inspiration and insight into changing ad models.

“It’s always happened to a certain extent in agencies, but if a business model was dramatically different or in a new area, quite often it didn’t go anywhere,” Breen said.

Publicis Groupe’s Denuo unit has obtained equity in several media startups in return for consulting services on ad models. WPP has set up WPP Digital to shape new ad models via stakes in firms like automated TV ad platform Spot Runner and online gaming network WildTangent. Last week, it bought 2.5 percent of JumpTap, a mobile search company.

“We’re looking for businesses that will bring insights about how new markets are developing,” said WPP Digital CEO Mark Read.

“Business models are evolving very rapidly,” added Breen. “How does that impact our business? How should we be rethinking our business models?”

Breen’s group, created last October when IPG overhauled its media operations, will manage IPG’s investments in new media, including small stakes in Facebook and Spot Runner. Breen said IPG would make more investments this year.

For a Q&A with Breen on the Futures Marketing Group and new ad business models, go to Adweek.com.