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An Interview with Jason Kuperman

Vice President, Omnicom Digital, Asia-Pacific, India, Middle East and Africa at Omnicom Group

Jason Kuperman helps Omnicom companies and their clients drive marketing innovation through emerging communications technologies. Kuperman’s unit is responsible for covering Asia-Pacific, India, the Middle East and Africa, and he is charged with spearheading strategic initiatives across all digital properties at Omnicom. Among his responsibilities are recruiting digital talent, training and evangelism, capability development, and strategic acquisitions. Prior to Omnicom, Kuperman worked at TBWA in Shanghai for two years. He started his advertising career at TBWA/Chiat/Day in Los Angeles, where he helped launch the agency’s digital practice. Before advertising, Kuperman was a library design specialist in architecture.

Tell me a little about your role?

Jason Kuperman: I work with our media, creative and marketing services companies focused primarily on advancing our digital capabilities and business. We do a lot of mergers and acquisitions work where we look for leading digital agencies that are on a positive growth trajectory and that we think would benefit from being a part of Omnicom. They, in turn, would help us deliver better services to our clients as well as expand our capabilities or geographies. We generally start with partnerships to get to know each other. But ultimately, we’re interested in acquisitions.

I do a lot of work in digital transformation, ensuring that our traditional agencies are prepared for the changing media and marketing landscape, as well as helping attract and retain our top digital leadership and talent.

I also spend a lot of time with our partner publishers—the Facebooks and Googles of the world—to leverage our aggregated spending across the group and our engagements with them. For example, Google does a lot with Omnicom Media Group (OMD and PHD) because that’s where there’s a lot of spending. I work to extend that relationship to our PR agencies, our creative agencies and all the other companies under the Omnicom Group umbrella that could benefit.

Finally, I also spend time with some of our top global clients that are working across multiple Omnicom Group agencies. They might be working with a PR agency, a media agency or maybe one of our shopper marketing companies. When there are multiple Omnicom agencies engaged, I’ll often get involved. For instance, we do a lot of work with Visa through both OMD and BBDO as well as other Omnicom Group agencies. McDonald’s also works with a number of Omnicom Group companies such as DDB, TBWA and OMD.

Among all these activities, what is most important?

Kuperman: The thing that takes the most amount of time is the digital transformation work, and that is basically working with our traditional agencies to upgrade talent and practices to address digital more aggressively. In some instances, agencies might want to solve these challenges with an acquisition. In other instances, they have their own digital division that they will lean on to handle digital for them. Both approaches can get the job done, but neither really help the traditional agency itself to stay relevant. So helping them transform their traditional staff is very important, and that’s definitely the most time-intensive thing.

What helps an agency from becoming a dinosaur?

Kuperman: In this region? It helps when an agency can take a role where it is comfortable leading its clients into the future, as opposed to just waiting for clients to ask for it.

Asia is very different from the West, and the region itself is very different amongst its own markets as well. Asia is not just one place at all. Clients here often treat agencies as vendors, and this can constrict an agency’s ability to best lead its clients. If this happens, the agency will only be as innovative and forward-thinking as its clients will allow.

I will say that over the seven years I have been in the region, I have seen the situation improving. More clients are increasingly interested in digital, and this means agencies are having an easier time being innovative.

What are the common challenges among multinational marketers with your markets?

Kuperman: The biggest challenge in this region seems to be pace—figuring out the proper pace to invest in your business and your marketing communications. Especially in the more emerging markets. Brands don’t want to be too slow and allow a competitor to get in and own too much mindshare that it makes it challenging for them to enter the market. But they also don’t want to be too aggressive and enter a market in a way that isn’t profitable or is too risky, ahead of what the market calls for. It’s tough, as each market and category can be pretty different.

Some of the packaged goods companies understand pace very well. They have the best understanding of how to leverage a global brand and reflect local market intricacies—whether they need to change a product slightly in order to fit the tastes of a market or just change packaging and pricing.

Pacing is a challenge for us, as well, since we are in the service industry. We service our clients, and our pacing tends to reflect theirs. A market that we are looking at right now is Myanmar. There are 60 million people in that market—it’s opening up and is very exciting. There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity there. There are a lot of moving parts to understand how much to invest in a market and what the expectation is for when the investment will pay off.

Beyond market entry, there are also pacing challenges in terms of how much to spend on marketing and which media to invest in heavily. If you take India as an example, where digital marketing spend is still pretty low, it’s easy to get frustrated. But you also have to remind yourself that some of these spends are pretty right-sized when you look at internet penetration.

What are the top business challenges your clients are wrestling with?

Kuperman: I would say understanding how digital and connected technologies are disrupting their category and how brands go to market in the evolving media and marketing landscape.

What kind of guidance are clients asking for the most? Can you offer some examples?

Kuperman: They all want to understand how to best leverage social media—what it means for them specifically and what they can get out of it. It’s this thing that no one feels they can afford to ignore, but at the same time, no one knows quite how to most effectively and strategically use. And just when they may have sorted the strategic value of social media, they need to figure out how to operationalize it in their marketing communications organization globally, and internally. How do they leverage the best practices and efficiencies of global platforms yet also maintain some of their own local market independence and autonomy?

Can you offer specific examples of how you or your team uses eMarketer data and content?

Kuperman: eMarketer is an incredible factual resource across markets and industries and the subcategories of digital marketing. It has done a fantastic job of going from 0 to 100 million miles an hour for this region. So, for example, it’s a great resource to size the mobile penetration in India, to understand broadband speeds in Indonesia, and all of the things that our agencies need to help build a case to support their strategies and ideas.

It’s a factual touchstone. You’ll pull a data chart, and if we’re going in to sell a mobile idea to a client in a market, we will highlight the eMarketer research to explain to them what the mobile environment is and why it makes sense or doesn’t make sense to do something.

Can you elaborate on some other uses of eMarketer?

Kuperman: I’m doing a lot of work on the combination of programmatic media and dynamic creative. We’re trying to understand how programmatic media is going to affect the digital creative business. We’ve been doing a roadshow to our creative agencies explaining to them what programmatic media is and why they need to get up to speed on DoubleClick Studio, DG MediaMind’s Smart Versioning and all of the dynamic creative tools out there. I use the latest programmatic media information from eMarketer to size the market and explain what the predictions are as to what percentage of the market will end up being in programmatic.

What did you use before you had eMarketer?

Kuperman: I have had eMarketer for about four or five years. Before eMarketer? I don’t know. I just did Google searches, I guess. And I’d usually end up with old or partial eMarketer data.

How have you used data, benchmarks or comparative estimates to help inform a client strategy?

Kuperman: We are constantly trying to expose people to the growth in the spending reports so that they understand how much is being spent in digital media—in the various regions and markets. So one good example of how we used eMarketer benchmarks was to understand our clients’ spend levels on digital as a percentage of overall media spend in a particular market.

What do you like best about eMarketer?

Kuperman: There is always something new on eMarketer. New material is constantly being published. I use Forrester Research as well, and I like Forrester. It’s good analysis, but the regional factual material I need is more regularly found on eMarketer. The iOS app is great too.

How would you describe eMarketer’s brand personality?

Kuperman: It’s sort of like a detail-oriented research intern.

What excites you the most in the digital landscape?

Kuperman: The combination of programmatic and dynamic creative with location-based mobile marketing. I think that digital marketing is at its best when it’s actually adding value to consumers’ lives. And that tends to mean, at the very least, relevance. The ability to do programmatic and dynamic creative means you’re increasing the relevance of your messaging. But then you add in the aspect of location, and all of a sudden you have all these dimensions of information where you really are able to offer someone opportunities of value as opposed to messages of interruption.

So that’s why the programmatic and dynamic creative excites me—it’s breathing life into banners and making them relevant. Beyond web display, since Asia is full of mobile-first/-only markets, location is a huge opportunity. In markets like India and Indonesia, the mobile phone is peoples’ first computer. And it’s certainly their favorite TV.

When you’re giving utility via mobile, that’s exciting to me.

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Jason Kuperman

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“We use eMarketer benchmarks to understand our clients' spend levels on digital as a percentage of overall media spend in a particular market.”


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