Media Buying Briefing: Engine Global CEO Explains How Downsizing Led To New Growth


Kasha Cacy knew a lot about holding companies and consulting firms when she left her role as CEO of UM to join Engine Worldwide in 2018. After all, she had held senior positions at McCann and Ogilvy, and s he cut the teeth in the media at Wunderman and Accenture. But all this experience has taught him that when holding companies or consulting firms get too big and cumbersome, they lose the ability to be nimble and responsive.

This is why Cacy has revamped Engine Worldwide, selling a movie trailer company and is in the process of selling various agency assets in the UK. Cacy has explained her strategy and goals in this Q&A, which has been edited for space and clarity.

Give a little history of what drew you to Engine, and what you did to change it?

The engine was a lot of stuff when I joined, frankly. The first thing I did was say which of these things go together and which don’t. [Film trailer firm] Trailer Park that we have divested ourselves of, and it is common knowledge that we are in the process of giving up our London [agency assets]. The most interesting assets and the ones we were able to truly evolve and innovate with over time were the US-based core assets, which mostly consist of global programmatic exchange, analytics capability, and a small integrated media. / creative / social media agency.

I loved the programmatic promise. I loved that it’s data driven, it’s focused, it’s measurable. It’s all the things that are great. The way we built it, however, quite frankly, leaked into a lot of different rooms, and the execution often fell short of its promises.

Are you talking about how Engine built programmatic or how the industry grew?

I am talking about the industry. If you look at the programming, there was and still is a transparency problem. No one can really see what’s going on in the programmatic supply chain. There is a data problem where, because you have a DSP and a DMP, and an SSP and an exchange, the data doesn’t actually connect to anything, especially when you are using cookies. Most of the industry’s infrastructure was built over 10 years ago, with no idea that CTV was going to happen, or that 5G was going to happen. Prior to my arrival, Engine had essentially rebuilt their programmatic exchange with that future in mind. I thought if we could combine this technology with other innovations, we could really start to correct some of the things that I had seen in the industry and offer better solutions, which I think we did.

How do you avoid the problems that agencies encountered years ago with their clients when their exchanges engaged in non-transparent practices such as media kickbacks?

For us, a client can be a brand, or a DSP, or an agency holding office. We have two novelties. The first is that we can offer a flat fee – most SSPs and exchanges can’t. The second innovation, and the most important, was the visualization of auction feed data, because everyone claims to have access to auction feed data. It’s just heavy and very difficult to use, isn’t it? One of our core capabilities is the ability to mine, manage, and visualize massive datasets. So instead of saying that you can have access to auction feed data, we actually offer you a portal, where you can see all the auctions that you have been in, you can see what is happening at each stage of the auction. auction, you can export that data if you want to use it for something else. It’s really kind of open the kimono to what’s going on.

More and more agencies are declaring that they do not want to participate in the next Mediapalooza because of the expensive requests of these huge clients. Where are you ?

We are small and we want to stay small. Since I’ve been here, the agency business has grown 10-15% every year, so we’re seeing growth. But I think we still have a lot of potential in this mid-level customer, and I think our service model aligns very well with what they need. To attack some of these Mediapalooza customers, we would need a really different structure and operating model. What we’re really good at is taking all the pieces (design, media, ideas) and getting something done for our client. Very big players often do it themselves. Rather, it is this intermediate level that finds it valuable.

What must holdings do to change?

I’ve always been a person who likes to step into a little sandbox and innovate, I think it’s really hard to do that at a holding company level right now. Because they are so big. And I think the challenge for them to move forward is which pieces [they should change]. You have seen that WPP has probably been the most aggressive in bringing different agencies together and defining capacities. I think you’re going to have to see more. Just the way the finances of the different agencies work and how it plays out at the overall level of the holding company. But it is by no means a small effort.

Color by numbers

Analyst and consultant Forrester released its 2022 predictions around media and advertising, agencies and CMOs. Forrester expects global revenue from the retail media category will reach $ 50 billion, eclipsing Netflix and YouTube revenues. Among the agencies, Forrester predicts that 10% will crack the code for monetize their creative and media technology. And finally, Forrester predicts that four in ten marketing managers will strengthen their mandate of internal agencies from execution to creation, by taking on more important missions within the framework of the management model of mixed partners.

Take off and landing

  • Havas Media Group provided global media tasks (planning, strategy and digital activation) for Dolce & Gabbana, which will be performed from HMG’s Italian office.
  • Nike is reportedly reviewing its huge media account, which could affect Wieden + Kennedy in the United States and Stagwell’s Assembly and GroupM Spirit sharing abroad. The company is estimated at nearly $ 1 billion in media spending worldwide.
  • In the news acquisition, digital marketing agency Brainlabs social / creative store acquired Consumer acquisition; advertising technology company chewing gum bought an attention-based advertising platform Xyz play area; and digital service provider Kepler Group measurement company acquired Napkyn Analytics.

Direct quote

“Brands are cautioned: prepare for the metaverse. It’s an opportunity to reimagine virtual experiences and find better ways to do everything we’ve tried to do in the real world, including building community among customers, virtually experiencing physical goods, understanding buyer behavior and creating (-powered) concierge-style services. As always, the path includes a few bad turns; accessibility and privacy must be built in from scratch.

Sanjay Mehta, industry and e-commerce manager at research firm Lucidworks, talks about the potential of the metaverse.

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