Video: Phil Cowdell Explains [M]PLATFORM and His Relationship with Lyle Schwartz

By Legends & Leadership Archives
Cover image for  article: Video: Phil Cowdell Explains [M]PLATFORM and His Relationship with Lyle Schwartz

Phil Cowdell presides over [M]PLATFORM, which GroupM created in response to the increased pressure on brands to "meet unprecedented consumer expectations for personalization and to deliver stakeholder demands for results." [M]PLATFORM is focused on delivering "a new level of communications addressability and relevance to help brands create consumer engagement that is measurable and accountable." As part of my exclusive Legends & Leaders Video Interview Series, Phil shares insights into the [M]PLATFORM role and the future of media and marketing.

COWDELL: If you think about the evolution of media, over the months, years, decades, we've built lots of capabilities as each thing has arrived. Do you remember back when there was that thing called digital and then there was a thing called search and then it evolved, there was this new thing called social, and then programmatic came along? Most of us as organizations had to build capabilities for each of those things as they happened. But then each of them in their own right becomes an entity. And over a while you say, 'Well, shouldn't we be neutral and just be able to connect with all consumers all the time in any digital world?' And that's really what [M]Platforms is about. For us to streamline, to simplify all these assets and serve them up so they're expressly and easily at the service of our clients through our agencies.

COWDELL: In the streamlining of this, and when you think all the different departments and functions, it becomes very simple now. There's Lyle [Schwartz] and there's Phil. So, Lyle is the face of all investment across all media and all types, and Phil is the face of platforms. Now if you think about the way we bring that together, platforms underpin the way we engage in trade with every partner, and then equally Lyle can look across every dollar we spend on behalf of clients across every media type to ensure that we're doing it in the right way, with the right access to the right inventory, at the right price and the right value. So this really is that streamlining of there's Lyle and there's Phil working seamlessly together as platforms and as investment. Watch Phil's full interview here.

COWDELL: The question would be, 'What's in the best interest of sellers as we move into the new media landscape?'  Maybe in the old world it was about opaqueness and maybe separation so that I can drive a price advantage here or there. But to me I think it's missing the point. The real benefit to sellers is helping us drive outcomes that are of value to our clients. So to me an input metric like a CPM is actually a false metric because it isn't related to what we're trying to deliver to our clients. The more we're delivering to outcomes, the better.  In my mind I think for vendors, for media partners, the more they can help us with clarity, connect with the right consumers and get the right message to the right consumers at the right occasion in the right environment with the right mindset, the more they're going to be benefitted. That is a very different conversation from an abstract price conversation, because a pure abstract price to me becomes much less relevant when you can think about the value you're creating. That's where I want them to think as being partners in the value chain.

COWDELL: If you think about the relationship between the vendor and the agency, there will be a data component but there's also an idea and an emotional human relationship. [These are] relationships where we understand the true needs of the brand and we can ideate together and explore the right ways to create value, so I think that the human relationship is even more important. Watch Phil's full interview here.

COWDELL: If we can create value for clients, then the value change can go all the way through and the seller of that should be rewarded. The other thing we've got to remember is that not everyone's in the market to buy a car today.  If you think about when we start advertising a premium car, that would actually be decades before the person can afford to buy it. So I think what we've got to realize is there's this issue of dynamic and variable pricing that you've got both the need for the sort of broader, ambient awareness which should be a certain CPM, and there's a specific 'I'm at the right time in the right place with an intent and a need,' which can be a different CPM.

COWDELL: Some people may think the industry is just continuing a sort of gradual onward movement. I think it's actually reinventing. There was a certain CMO of a large CPG client, and he used to put up a picture, three pictures, there was the Coliseum in Rome, there was the Sydney Opera House and there was the pyramids of Giza.  And he'd say, 'Look at these three things.'  And you'd say, 'Yeah, they all look fundamentally different.' But he said what's interesting is the architectural style and the application are completely different, the usage completely different. But the principles of physics are the same and they've been the same for millennia. So within our industry I think the true principles of engaging with consumers to get their mental availability into a brand, to understand how to engage with a brand and want to buy the brand, that's all enduring. But I think the edifices and the constructions we've built to try and address it, a bit like the Coliseum and the Opera House and the pyramids of Giza, have manifestly changed over the years. And so in an evolution I think we're on this side, changing the edifice and representation of agencies, but what is continuing and staying true are the principles of how we engage with consumers to drive value for our clients.

Watch my full interview with Phil Cowdell here and view the full Legends & Leaders Video Interview Series here.

Click to Watch:

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Video: Phil Cowdell Explains [M]PLATFORM and His Relationship with Lyle Schwartz

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