“Social media is still in test mode”
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“Social media is still in test mode”

Jonathan Nelson became CEO of Omnicom Digital last year, reporting directly to Omnicom Group CEO John Wren in New York.

Holmes Report

Jonathan Nelson became CEO of Omnicom Digital last year, reporting directly to Omnicom Group CEO John Wren in New York. Nelson, who previously headed Omnicom-owned agency Organic, oversees digital strategy at a group level for the holding company, which owns PR agencies Ketchum, Porter Novelli and Fleishman-Hillard, and ad firms such as BBDO, TBWA and DDB.

In an interview with the Holmes Report in Cannes, Nelson tells us whether any of his group’s agencies are making real money out of social media.

Which of your group’s agencies are leading on social media? Is it PR firms, ad agencies, or specialist players?

It’s actually all of them. It’s intrinsic to all vertical silos. It could come out DDB, Organic or Fleishman-Hillard. That just mirrors a greater debate – who owns digital? The wise clients are looking cross-departmentally. Digital doesn’t recognise the silos of traditional media. You have a choice of re-organising what you have or making them work together.

Within the PR industry, there is a point of view that social media is not – at this stage – a particularly well-funded practice. From your experience, is that a fair comment?


It’s hard to make money out of a relatively new type of marketing, but once you get a track record and put metrics behind it, an evolution happens and clients start to see that. Clients want to test, measure what happens and then the next thing is they put a budget behind it. But it is still in a test mode.

Are you looking to acquire a specialist social media agency?

If there was a great social media agency that showed itself and had all the criteria we look for, we would look at them. There are not many out there like that. It does surprise me. But it also surprises me that, in the last decade, we really haven’t seen a massive emergence of digital services that have hit scale.

How interested are you in developing your own social media monitoring tools?

Tools by themselves are not the solution. We are afraid of technology but I think we’re better “glue-makers”. There’s a lot of venture capital flowing into social media monitoring companies and they are going to out-innovate us.

Does it concern you that more than one type of agency in your group may provide similar social media services?

I wish I had 10 of them. If they were really good and the market was demanding them.

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