The heat is on to migrate more digital marketing activities into the cloud, and while we have seen a lot of movements from smaller, fleet-0f-foot startups in this area, the big players don’t want to be left out in the cold, either. Enter WPP, which today announced a partnership with the Bangalore-based outsourcing and IT specialist Infosys for a new cloud-based digital marketing platform.
Called “BrandEdge,” the two say the platform is the first of its kind in the industry, in that it brings together, into the cloud, a range of digital marketing activities such as creation and management of digital media across multiple locations and tools to manage campaing execution — all running on a single platform.
The two say that they have already signed up three major customers to use this, and while today they have not announced any specific names, in March Reuters ran a report that WPP and Infosys had nabbed a large deal with GlaxoSmithKline to manage its global marketing activities, so this could well be one of the companies signed up already.
WPP’s involvement in the BrandEdge service is being run by Fabric, one of WPP’s digital marketing subsidiaries, and comes just days after WPP made another bet on digital: the company invested $7 million into MySupermarket, an online price comparison service based in the UK but planning to extend to further territories.
These movements are all part of a bigger strategy WPP has to grow revenues in the area of digital media over traditional advertising. In 2011, digital accounted for $4.8 billion out of total revenues of $16 billion. The plan is for WPP to make 40 percent of revenues from digital activities in the next five years.
In the case of BrandEdge, the product definitely serves a basic need: because of the internet, companies have become increasingly global in their marketing, but at the same time a lot of marketing functions have remained quite localized. As agencies look to win business, one area where they can have an edge over others is to offer a more centralized platform for all those local marketeers to use, with the added benefit of lower prices and a more efficient workflow.
At the same time, we are seeing some evolution in how advertisers pay for digital media: whereas in the past people have been billed by campaigns, the BrandEdge platform is offered on a subscription-based, pay-per-use model. That’s a trend we are seeing in other parts of the digital marketing chain, too. Just earlier today, Jonah Goodhart, the CEO of Moat, noted that his company’s offer of basing its analytics services on a subscription model was proving more popular than basing pricing on media spend. (WPP’s claim is reducing time-to-market by up to 40 percent and costs by up to 30 percent.)
Some of the services included in the new cloud platform are the ability to re-purpose digital media assets; integrate CRM and other third-party data for measurement, privacy, security standards and so on; provide analytics on that data; and offer services to deliver out that data to social networks, ad networks and other marketing channels. That could spell a challenge for smaller startups like Moat and Hootsuite who have been early movers in cloud-based services up to now.