IPG’s Mediabrands Clarifies ‘Investment’ And ‘Intelligence’ Roles At Magna

Following the word that agency vet Tim Hanlon would be leaving his post as CEO of Mediabrands’ investment unit Velociter, the Interpublic Group media hub says it is strengthening and clarifying the investment and intelligence/research duties at Mediabrands’ MagnaGlobal unit.

In what the company describes as a “continued evolution of the Mediabrands,” and in light of the defection of Elizabeth Herbst-Brady as CEO and president of MagnaGlobal for a strategic ad sales post at MTV Networks (NYSE: VIA), the group will be “divided into two separate but complementary disciplines,” namely, “investments” and “intelligence.”

On the investment side, Chris Williams, takes over as president, MagnaGlobal Investment. It’s a slightly new title for Williams, who was previously EVP, Global Investment Strategy.

On the intelligence side, Brian Monahan, a senior exec at Mediabrands, will take the lead on the research front as head of the IPG Media Lab. Brian will be joined by Vincent Letang, who was already tapped to succeed Brian Wieser as director of Global Forecasting. Wieser became the CMO of a joint venture between Magna and targeted TV startup Simulmedia in February.

These changes take effect at month’s end.

Although Magna is getting more focused on investments, the change is said not to have much to do with Hanlon’s departure. Whether that’s true or not, the company says that Velociter is not being disbanded and that further news will be announced “in time.”

The changes on the investment side are important, as IPG looks to keep pace with the near-constant string of digital M&A activity at rivals WPP Group and Publicis Groupe. To be sure, IPG may not be as acquisitive as its competitors, but it can be smart when it counts, such as when it took a very small bet on Facebook by taking a 0.4 percent stake in the social net for $5 million in 2006. According to a report last April, that miniscule stake is worth between $200- and $300 million.

Similarly, analytics and forecasting, always a big part of MagnaGlobal, is increasingly important to marketers in terms of the value an agency provides. In essence though, these latest moves reflect the ongoing changes of the restructuring of Mediabrands since Matt Seiler moved over from IPG’s Universal-McCann to serve as CEO in January.