Creating the Future and Driving Results

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Sean Muzzy, CEO North America for Neo@Ogilvy, and Tim Skennion, VP of Sales for Argyle, discussed marketing across the many devices consumers now use and the importance of real-time insights.

TIM SKENNION: Ogilvy is one of the most prestigious advertising firms in the world, but as its digital arm, how do you distinguish yourself from other major agency digital providers? How do you leverage the Ogilvy infrastructure and brand?

SEAN MUZZY: What makes us somewhat unique is first and foremost culture. A lot of the people, including me and members of the senior leadership team, have been with O&M for a number of years, and it runs through our veins. It really is a founder’s culture. When I was first starting out, I used to come to the office every day and see a sign in the cafeteria that had a picture of David Ogilvy with his quote, “Change is our lifeblood. Stagnation our death knell.” That culture is something we firmly believe in. We have a principle across all of O&M called “Twin Peaks” that stands for pervasive creativity, which is the idea that creativity comes from anywhere in our organization, and effectiveness, which means that it’s not enough for our ideas to be creative, but they also have to be effective. That’s what we try to accomplish at Neo.

If you’re comparing what we do to another digital media shop, I think that’s a big differentiator for us. If you look through our history, O&M has been a company that’s tried to always push the envelope in creating these different areas of expertise. We were the first agency group to create an interactive group in 1983, and Neo is just one of those pieces throughout history.

In this day and age, there are so many different shops out there. Within Neo, we try to maintain the culture part, but we also try to have a really agile, nimble spirit and can-do attitude that is more associated with a start-up. One of the negatives that people say about big agencies is that they are slow. At Neo, whenever people say those things, I say we’re the exact opposite.

TIM SKENNION: So is the perception that Neo is the cool start-up within Ogilvy?

SEAN MUZZY: Yes, and in the past year, I’ve tried to reignite that spirit. A lot of the people leading Neo were part of OgilvyOne, and while we’ve been doing digital media for years, the actual Neo brand was created in 2006. At the time, we were one of the first global digital media networks ever created.

When we look back, we were doing something very different back then. With all the technologies and platforms in the industry, a lot of brands and marketers feel that they can do it all on their own and that can change the dynamic of the business. It’s like a pendulum between insourcing and outsourcing. At Neo, we have a very innovative spirit and we call it “never getting distracted from creating the future.”

TIM SKENNION: From a performance marketing standpoint, Ogilvy solutions are based off of real-time, what you call “of-the-moment insights.” How are you able to achieve these?

SEAN MUZZY: We have a framework and methodology that looks at different sources of data. First, we look at our client’s industry and target audience to understand the objectives. And then we’ll look at search data, social data, online behavioral data or sometimes what we’ll call secular data.

For one of our clients, we looked at the relationship between fluctuations in the stock market and account openings. And what we found out was that when the market fluctuated by plus or minus 2 percent, we saw a significant increase in account openings. We updated all of our bids, display media and search media and saw significant increases in conversion.

TIM SKENNION: So with these insights, are Ogilvy or Neo able to react immediately to the trends?

SEAN MUZZY: Yes, and real-time marketing is happening more and more. For instance, you can program Twitter-sponsored tweets up to a year in advance. The connectivity of systems is still happening. Going back to my statement about the challenge of balancing between technology and human capital, in that particular case, we are able to do it because we have to create alerts and feeds into a system. It gets more complicated in social media and other areas depending on how you’re managing your community. Real-time marketing is a buzz phrase right now. Ultimately, I think it’s going to come back to what marketers are trying to solve. There are pieces of business that need to be in real time, but there are also things that don’t need to be in real time.

This is an excerpt. Read the full interview on

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