Episode 2 – Yale Cohen from Publicis Media

“Culture is one of the things that we talk about. How we address culture is through brand integrity. A brand needs to address what it stands for.”

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Welcome to Episode 2 of the Breaking Through the Mayhem podcast — the show where we explore marketing and advertising in a time of constantly shifting risk and opportunity.

Brought to you by Sightly, our goal is to share the insights of industry leaders from brands, agencies, publishers and partners as they discuss the challenges and possibilities emerging from the ever-shifting media landscape, such as real-time marketing, brand safety and purpose, influencers, cancel culture, data privacy, technology and more.

Today’s guest is Yale Cohen, EVP, Global Digital Standards at Publicis Media. Publicis Media harnesses the power of modern media through global agency brands Performics, Spark Foundry, Starcom, and Zenith. A key business solution of Publicis Groupe, Publicis Media’s digital-first, data-driven global practices deliver client value and drive growth in a platform-powered world. It is present in more than sixty countries with over 23,000 employees worldwide.

Yale is an experienced EVP with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. Skilled in digital strategy, mobile advertising, and integrated marketing, Yale has a Bachelor of Science & Economics focused in Marketing and Management from the University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School.

In the episode, which was recorded live at the Brand Safety Summit NY on November 3, 2022, Yale discusses:

    • His career and role as EVP of Global Digital Standards
    • How brands and agencies can transform from reactive to proactive
    • The impact of cultural events on media decisions
    • The importance of having a decisioning framework in place
    • The facets of Publicis’s approach to defining brand integrity
    • The need to focus on solutions for measuring media responsibility

To find out more about all the great work Yale and Publicis Media do, visit the company’s website or follow it on LinkedIn and Twitter @PublicisMedia. You can also connect with Yale directly on LinkedIn.

GuestYale Cohen

Publicis Media

The Breaking Through the Mayhem Podcast - Episode 2

Host: Adam Katz, Chief Revenue Officer & GM, Sightly
Guest: Yale Cohen, EVP, Global Digital Standards, Publicis Media
Recorded live at the Brand Safety Summit NY, November 3, 2022

Adam Katz:
Welcome again to Sightly’s Breaking Through the Mayhem Podcast, marketing in a time of constantly shifting risk and opportunity. I'm Adam Katz, and we've been having a lot of fun here live through the Brand Safety Summit in New York. We're very, very lucky to have an amazing guest, Yale Cohen. Yale if you don't mind, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do and what keeps you going in the industry.

Yale Cohen:
Thanks for having me, Adam. I'm Yale Cohen. I work for Publicis Media, I've been with the company for 12 years and in the industry almost 20. Honestly, what keeps me going is helping our marketers simplify everything about our space that's so complex.

Adam Katz:
Well, that brings up an amazing topic, right, that we’re going to talk about a bunch today, but obviously It's gotten more complex over the last couple of years.

Yale Cohen:
Yes, it has.

Adam Katz:
I think it was already that complex. It's just everything has increased in terms of the attention that people are paying to it. So, how do you see brands today being able to navigate the environment that we're in, especially around the speed of culture and the tendency for people to align with their own biases in their own thought process?

Yale Cohen:
I think we have historically been very reactive to the marketplace. And I think from our perspective, it's how do we become more proactive and shift our stance to address things upfront? Culture is one of the things that we talk about. How we address culture is through brand integrity. A brand needs to address what it wants to stand for.

And when cultural events happen, they need to react to them accordingly and react consistently. And having that type of a decisioning framework helps brands to understand what it is that they want to do in the market, how they want to activate, and who they want to activate with — because ultimately they have power in the dollars that they spend and what those dollars represent for them and the consumer's reaction with their brand.

That's a way for us to address it in a proactive way. To address everything that happens across not just the media ecosystem, but across what every consumer's going through across the world.

Adam Katz:
Interesting. And how is your organization currently having those conversations every day? Do you have a business team that does that itself? Do you bring teams together? Are you having challenging conversations now with your brands? You have had amazing success over the last couple of years. And what would you say has been your advice to everyone else on how to bring that together and how to do that?

Yale Cohen:
At Publicis, we have a lot of ambassadors for standards and for just how to make sure that our brands are becoming more responsible. We have so many people who are just hand-raisers and they just think that they're doing what's right for the brand and they believe in it and they're passionate about it.

And it's part of my job to help motivate them to do that same type of work. The ambassadors have their roles and responsibilities, and it helps us to extend the network to the right frameworks, the right details, and for them to make the critical decisions on behalf of clients.

Adam Katz:
And how do you get those people to be a lot more comfortable to do that at scale, when obviously they could have a differing opinion than the current brand that they're working with?

Yale Cohen:
I think every client lead at an agency works with their client and they need to make their own decisions specifically for what's right for the brand.

Adam Katz:
Got it.

Yale Cohen:
So I'm not going to make a decision that's ubiquitous or unilateral across everyone. But I think putting the right frameworks in place so that they can make those decisions with an educated background on topics, helps them to be proactive about that strategy.

It's a way for us to get as much information into their hands so they can do what's right.

Adam Katz:
But it's also helping you with a challenge I feel like we've all had over the years in the industry, which is really getting anyone to align on strategy. Ultimately, when you get people to align on strategy, everyone's more comfortable with each other. So, I think it's a great point.

Is there any information that you feel is missing in the ecosystem, that if you were to be able to create your own thing, and come up with a great idea that you'd be proud of?
I know you've been working hard on your own idea.

Yale Cohen:
Yeah.

Adam Katz:
So what would make you proud to see improvement on something you think the industry is missing?

Yale Cohen:
The industry talks a lot about media responsibility. We address it through a decisioning framework around brand integrity, but that's the decisioning framework.

What I think is missing in our industry is how to measure that and how to activate on what is media responsibility. How does a brand translate what their values are into media and an impression? How do they measure that? And how do they say, I activate with purpose? So that's what's missing in our industry. How do you create that touchpoint with a consumer that says this is the right way to do it, and activate.

Adam Katz:
And how do you then stay consistent and authentic? It's a big question, and I know it's been a big topic this week. If ROI doesn't happen quickly, right? How do we get to a place where people's commitments equal understanding the process that it takes. You and I have had this conversation over the years, you know, with our own passions. How do you get brands to really understand that over time? And I agree with you, there is no perfect measurement today. But how do you prove over time that this is going to help you?

Yale Cohen:
That's the billion dollar question! Can you measure brand integrity? Can you activate it? And if you change one lever, will that change your company's purpose, and what that consumer sees of the company's purpose? So, I think it starts with measurement and understanding — like how to change a consumer's opinion of a brand and what are the actual metrics that go into that.

We have standard and defined metrics, for viewability, for fraud.

Adam Katz:
Now brand safety.

Yale Cohen:
But how do you measure and think about activating brand integrity, purpose, authenticity?

Adam Katz:
Yeah, I think it's a challenge. That's what we work on Sightly every day and we know how hard it is.

Yale Cohen:
You know, ultimately, you can't trade off ROI if you have no idea what metrics you're going to trade off for that ROI.

Adam Katz:
Because then you lose the client. So it becomes a very interesting place and you know, I was at the DEI conference on Tuesday and that was a massive topic that everyone was discussing. They were also discussing an interesting topic around not asking for too much budget when you can’t take it yet, which I think has made it harder for agencies over the last couple of years. So how do you focus on that?

Yale Cohen:
I think it’s more so, we've been focusing on the research that helps us to uncover where we have unconscious bias…

Adam Katz:
Gotcha.

Yale Cohen:
…so that you're not just investing blindly. And I think the thing about that is, there are tools that we use that have bias because they're created by us as humans. And we just need to take a step back and reevaluate what those things are and how we want to improve on them. And that's just an industry wide thing. Everyone needs to take a look under their hood and be proactive.

Adam Katz:
Do you think it's going to get to a place where you see brands working with each other on this? Or do you think it's going to stay pretty competitive?

Yale Cohen:
I think brands will continue to act out of their best interests.

Adam Katz:
Gotcha.

Yale Cohen:
I think for everyone, every brand, it's hard to collaborate on some of those things unless there's a true partnership between different types of brands, one on one. So, I don't think it's an industry collaboration. It's on a brand by brand basis because essentially they create their own unique purpose in the market and they have their own unique audience.

Adam Katz:
It’s something I've been thinking about a lot today with all the people we've been talking to. One of our earlier podcast interviews today was with someone from a direct brand and he stated that they love to hear other people's wins and successes. So, I think there is going to be a good way for us to hopefully bring that together. But people have to be willing to share that information.

I think the last thing I'd love to know from you is, there's a lot of discussion around purpose and authenticity.And we've been talking a lot about ROI and the trade off. If you had a utopia in the next — let's give it seven years before 2030 — Yale, where do you hope this is? You'll be in your 19th year at Publicis…

Yale Cohen:
Yeah.

Adam Katz:
So where do you see this ending?

Yale Cohen:
I feel like we're going to figure out the measurement piece of this. I think there's going to be better ways for us to activate. There's going to be ways for us to mitigate bias. And we'll do that through much more sophisticated tools. The yardstick is short at this moment, like we have so much further to go, and I'm constantly optimistic about it.

Adam Katz:
And if you had to give a recommendation to people, what kind of places would you recommend people reading and learning? If there was a person just getting started, somebody who could jump in and add a great source of learning.

Yale Cohen:
I would say, I learn the best from brands by actually immersing myself in brands and taking a step back and seeing what it is like listening to everyone. When you go into a store, when you hear something, when you read reviews of products. I always think about how does the consumer feel about things? The consumer is the one that you should actually be listening to and figure out what they want.

Adam Katz:
One of the ideas we've been having a lot of in our world is, I try to just sit down with people in the company and ask, what would you do in this situation? Just so you could start to hear more about what a consumer would be willing to do. You bring up a perfect point. Thank you for joining us. You’ve done an incredible job of educating everyone that we're talking to.

Yale Cohen:
Thank you.

Sightly
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