Vision7 Media has launched a new standalone marketing technology and data consultancy called Magnet.
The parent company of Cossette Media, Jungle Media and Impact Research formally unveiled the new unit, which counts cloud technology, marketing automation and digital media among its capabilities, on April 10.
Magnet’s mandate is to help clients make smarter, more impactful advertising decisions through a blend of consulting services and proprietary data solutions. Its name is a nod to Cossette’s former programmatic division Magnet Intell, which was established in 2012.
The unit—which employs slightly more than 20 people, divided between its engineering and consulting teams—is designed to help marketers make better use of data and technology.
“There’s a new dimension of complexity that technology has brought in,” says Joseph Leon, president of Vision7 Media and executive chair of the new unit. “Marketing and technology are here to stay. This is not a blip—this is a future state.
Magnet has been assembled from various components within the Vision7 Media family, including the engineering group in Montreal that was initially created to establish its programmatic marketing expertise, as well as its martech and adtech services.
The unit is headed by senior vice-president and general manager Janice Liu, who was previously VP of digital solutions at Cossette Media. She is joined by Franck Garnier as senior director, product and engineering.
Magnet’s core objectives include helping clients create a “frictionless” marketing journey across disparate consumer channels and touch-points while making those journeys unique to consumers and highly measurable, says Liu.
Leon says several factors contributed to the decision to launch Magnet now, most notably the accelerated convergence of marketing and technology. Technology has become a key battleground, with agencies and marketers each clinging to their respective capabilities while the tech players and consultancies circle around seeking opportunities. “We’re in a world where there’s a huge opportunity, but also a massive amount of friction,” he says.
While consultancies represent a clear threat to agencies, Leon says there is still room for experience around marketing and technology. “A lot of our clients get frustrated by the lack of hands-on practitioner expertise,” he says. “They don’t understand the day-to-day nuances of marketing or the aspirations and frustrations that marketers have.”
Loblaw’s recent announcement that it plans to sell ads around its first-party data also validates one of Magnet’s core operating philosophies around audience solutions and bringing simplicity to audience data, organizing it and making it accessible and actionable, he says.
“It’s touching on the significant opportunity that businesses are recognizing: ‘I have all of this data, I want to be able to recognize my customer better, create better marketing experiences and better business experiences,'” he says. “How do you go from a totally disparate state to one that’s unified and simple. That’s not an easy journey.
“We’re in the business of reducing complexity and future-proofing our clients’ business,” he adds. “The ultimate measure of success is going to be ‘Have we helped them unlock their full potential of data and technology?'”
Liu is a natural lead for a start-up like Magnet, combining years of experience with media agencies including ZenithOptimedia and PHD, client-side experience through digital roles within CIBC, and an entrepreneurial streak that includes launching an e-commerce site called Shoppalu.com in 2011 and Retreat, a service for booking last-minute spa and salon appointments, in 2017.
Since joining Cossette in 2016, Liu has spent her time developing strategies to help it move into the space currently occupied by consultancies.
“I’m a big fan of technology, really into the STEM space, and I always try to make sure that what I’m doing is around helping our clients solve strategic problems,” says Liu. “I love designing and building products.”
Magnet is launching in Toronto and Montreal, but Vision7 has ambitious plans to scale up the business, first into the U.S. and eventually globally. “We think what Magnet addresses universal business needs, and has a valuable role to play in the rest of our network,” says Leon. “We would be disappointed if we had not established roots in the U.S. within 12 months.”