The former head of Ebiquity in Australia, Richard Basil-Jones, was head-hunted internally to take on an international role close to 12 months ago. He became global president of the independent media and marketing consultancy, working out of their London headquarters.
He spoke in London with Mediaweek about his first 12 months in the role.
With the impressive title of president, soon after arrival in London, Basil-Jones couldn’t resist the gag “making Ebiquity great again” which he used several times to the staff which he explained was received with “muffled laughter”.
“Global is the key word in my title,” he told Mediaweek. Answering into Basil-Jones are North America, Europe, Great Britain/Ireland and the Asia Pacific region.
“The challenges around the marketing and media landscape are the same here as they are back in Australia. They are variations on a similar theme. I went to a big ANA marketing forum in Orlando earlier this year, and hearing the challenges and opportunities talked about made me feel like I could have been sitting in Sydney.
“The one common theme for everyone is it is not getting any easier. And the pace of change is not getting any slower.”
Most of Basil-Jones’ work is internal, working with different Ebiquity teams. Occasionally he will visit clients with those teams. “I also visit some industry bodies. I am not in the frontline of the business, instead working at a senior management level driving it forward.”
Basil-Jones explained the UK market remains very important and is where the listed company came together originally. “It is our strongest and biggest market. The market that is still on the slow burn for us is North America. The issue about transparency there blew up after the bomb was thrown by former Mediacom CEO John Mandel when he discussed rebates and kickbacks.
“The US in a way is still very under-developed and for our business an area of great opportunity.
“On continental Europe, big markets like France and Germany are also very important.”
Advertisers can engage Ebiquity for different reasons, but Basil-Jones said one central reason was for analysis of the return on investment of their marketing spends.
“There is a strong focus on true accountability and understanding business outcomes. We have about 65 people in London working on econometric modelling and return on investment projects. It’s a big part of our business here.
“We work with advertisers. Our clients are typically brand owners and we help them navigate their way through the media and marketing eco-system. That can range from a classic financial compliance order all the way to the end of the journey, which is what levers are working for them. What is driving the business forward – is it too short term, are you looking at enough long term?
“Then we get into the tech area – martech where we help clients around programmatic etc. We play in all the various hot spots.”
Media agencies welcome the involvement of Ebiquity in different ways. The welcome mat doesn’t always come out.
“We don’t get a huge number of Christmas cards from media agencies,” admitted Basil-Jones.
“But they understand the role we play. We are advisors to their clients and we try to foster the understanding that we all have a role to play and we want to work together.”
He noted though that as their clients are advertisers and brands, when there is a lower than expected performance, Ebiquity needs to call it out and hold the agency to account.
“We are meeting with a lot of the major agency groups in London. They want us to learn more about what they do and how they do it.” Basil-Jones recalled a sessions he had with Publicis in London where he was walked through all their brands and their unique offerings.
“We do get involved with agency selections and assist clients with that. The more we understand the media agencies and the holding companies, the better job we do.”