MediaCom and Google are pooling resources to create a customized training programme designed to prepare the WPP agency’s planners and strategists for all mobile-centric opportunities including wearable tech.
The scheme, called Mobile Ignition, will launch in the UK this September, before rolling out to other territories including the US, EMEA and APAC regions.
MediaCom staff will be trained on topics including the foundations of mobile advertising, search and analytics, along with opportunities in wearable tech.
Trainees will be taught best practice in Google analytics, and how to identify and execute opportunities using Google data to ensure the best channels and mobile techniques are selected on behalf of the agency’s clients.
The training scheme will culminate in an online-only test, with certificates to be awarded to those who pass. All those in MediaCom’s digital teams will be given access to the course, starting with its in-house mobile specialist divisions.
Ben Phillips, global head of mobile for MediaCom, who has spearheaded the partnership, said that the move is aimed at future-proofing the agency’s ability to react fast to changing trends while ensuring mobile is fully integrated into all media plans in a way which helps clients leapfrog the competition.
He said: “Mobile is becoming more pervasive in digital disciplines. It’s important to have an educated perspective on the benefits and how to integrate mobile into an overall media plan. Wearable technology will be part of the training process, while we focus on the foundations of mobile advertising, search and analytics, MediaCom looks to the future and how new devices, specialists functions and technology can enhance a consumer experience.
“From a Crawl, Walk, Run model you must have confidence in what is available today before you can confidently advise on the future. Constant training and accreditation ensures this.”
The scheme will see the search giant and agency dedicate equal resources to the programme, while plans are already afoot to expand other areas of training, outside the Google partnership, in areas including retail, according to Phillips.
“This will centre on things like longer-tail i-Beacon strategies and what you should do today in terms of geo location specifically in retail. There are a number of ways to approach it and my methodology is that mobile isn’t just a few slides tacked on to the end of a presentation, but pervasive across out-of-home, display, press, TV – absolutely everything.”
Phillips said the Google partnership has been partly inspired by clients’ demands, with brands such as Coca-Cola in particular expecting its agencies to demonstrate the ability to “look around corners”.
“Clients are asking what our point of view is on wearable tech, and we want to be able to build out systems today so that is a new technology should come around the corner we know we can use wearable devices to influence insurance premiums for example.”
He cited Virgin’s Pulse wearable device, designed to let people track their own performance while in the gym.
“That kind of device enables you to do things like reduce your monthly premium on the basis of how healthy you are, and using devices to track what you’re doing in the gym – so it’s a natural progression to take it into other areas.”
However he stressed the importance of not pursuing a new technology or the nest “shiny light” for the sake of it, without defining its value first.
Although no details of the full investment are being revealed, those mobile specialists already in the business, have directly led to an increase in mobile spend, according to Phillips.
“We can confidently show that where we have had mobile specialists in the local markets, we have seen on average 116 per cent growth in mobile spend. So that is why we are taking this training accreditation very seriously. Having these certified specialists in the group is important, and you only get that through accreditation. It’s a very competitive world and this sets us aside,” he said.
Meanwhile Google’s Global agency business leader Phil Jones said: “Google and MediaCom working together can provide a huge volume of insight, knowledge and experience in this space. By developing Mobile Ignition in partnership, we can bring deeper levels of expertise in mobile to MediaCom and its clients.”
The plan is for all MediaCom’s mobile planners, buyers and strategists in-core markets to have completed the course by 2015.