Sean Finnegan Named CEO of Mediabrands’ Hyperlocal Agency Geomentum

Mediabrands CEO Matt Freeman has made another big hire at the IPG media buying and planning hub: Sean Finnegan, who left his post as digital chief of Publicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest Group two months ago, has been named CEO of Mediabrands’ hyperlocal marketing agency Geomentum.

In addition to Finnegan, Mediabrands has added Tony Bombacino as Geomentum’s president/CMO. He was previously CMO at Restaurant.com.

About two months ago, Tim Hanlon, another media agency vet who spent many years at Publicis Groupe, was promoted by Freeman to serve as CEO of Velociter, the company’s investment unit formerly known as Greenhaus. Hanlon joined Mediabrands in August.

Like Hanlon, Finnegan is a widely respected digital media exec. He joined SMG in Sept. ’08, after a nine-month stint in the start-up world at in-text ad provider Vibrant Media. Before that, Finnegan had been CEO of Omnicom Group’s in-house interactive shop, OMG Digital.

As Mediabrands has been building up its executive ranks over the past year, hyperlocal has become a much more important focus. It’s also a very different area for a major advertising agency to be focused on. But as online rises, the local market, along with video, are the main areas where growth is going to come from. For the most part, local still remains a largely untapped space, at least where most established media and marketing entities are concerned.

When Mediabrands hired former Forrester analyst Lisa Bradner has Geomentum’s first president this past summer, the unit was working on expanding into client categories such as restaurant, retail, and banking. Part of the reason for Mediabrands existing is to tear down the silos between IPG’s various agency units and in the particular case of Geomentum, one of the purposes of its creation was to find ways of making hyperlocal a part of clients’ campaigns.

Update: In a conversation with both Finnegan and Bombacino, the two described joining Mediabrands as a reunion of old pals. Finnegan had worked with Freeman at Omnicom, when the latter was at Tribal DDB a decade ago. Bombacino also worked with Finnegan, when the former was on the client side at United Airlines.

Finnegan agreed that hyperlocal really hadn’t been a focus of major advertisers and agencies. And that’s part of the reason he wanted the the job. “It’s a unique proposition, but it’s an eventual proposition,” he said. “We’ve been talking for the last 15-, 20 years about getting down to the granular level, where we can approach ad messages from a more personal, individual approach. At the same, it allows the advertiser to form a more functional, utility-based relationship with consumers, which is fundamentally, what advertising is and should be. With everything migrating to a digital platform, we can now piece that all together. In this case, that involves bringing all the independent business units to bear in hyperlocal.”