Carat U.S. CEO Doug Ray to Take on New Dentsu Aegis Role

NEW YORK, February 8, 2017 — By Alexandra Bruell, Wall Street Journal

Japanese advertising and media company Dentsu Inc. has elevated Doug Ray, the U.S. CEO of its media agency Carat, to a new role meant to create more integrated, custom agency services for clients across its Dentsu Aegis Network.

Dentsu Aegis Network encompasses parent company Dentsu’s operations outside of Japan, including agencies like Carat. Carat’s president and chief client officer, Michael Epstein, will replace Mr. Ray as U.S. CEO.

Mr. Ray’s appointment, which gives him the new title of president of product and innovation for Dentsu Aegis, comes after a year in which the company acquired a number of businesses in the U.S. The network, which also houses shops like 360i, Isobar and McGarryBowen, recently acquired digital buying group Accordant, analytics shop Cardinal Path and data and CRM giant Merkle.

In the new role, Mr. Ray will pluck data and technology resources and expertise from the individual companies to cater to clients’ specific needs, as well as lead a charge to think up new marketing products.

“We are in unprecedented times,” said Mr. Ray. “Clients are seeking solutions to problems the industry hasn’t necessarily solved. The role is really to help identify new and future products that we can bring to our clients to help them solve business challenges.”

As clients look to make the most efficient use of data across creative, media and digital marketing agencies, agencies are racing to figure out how best to organize to serve them. Dentsu Aegis doesn’t currently have plans to create a central data unit, like other holding companies, said Mr. Ray, but this new role signals a shift toward a central data focus.

“Our operating model doesn’t require us to create a separate unit,” he said. For example, “if an analyst from Merkle is relevant for a client at Carat, we will put those [full-time employees] on that business and that will be managed by Carat.”

Creating new products using existing data assets and people will be a main focus for Mr. Ray. Among the network’s existing products are a “TV Stack,” which makes recommendations for cross-screen planning and buying, as well as a global polling tool called the Consumer Connection System, among others. A new product might combine customer data from Merkle with “attitudinal” data from CCS, for example.

“Data is really important now, but not all data is created equal,” said Mr. Ray. “With the acquisition of companies like Cardinal Path, Accordant and Merkle, how do we bring those capabilities together in a way that tells a very simple story that clients understand and [so they can] leverage those capabilities in a more connected and joined up way?”

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