Publicis Health Media (PHM) counts shaking up the C-suite among its 2018 highlights. The media agency added new positions as well as new leaders in digital, investment and product roles.
The hires and rejiggered roles reflect the areas in which the agency plans to invest during the years ahead, says PHM president Andrea Palmer, who was promoted from chief strategy officer to president in early 2019.
Colan McGeehan, previously head of business and corporate strategy at Time Inc., was brought in as chief investment officer. Ray Rosti was promoted to chief digital officer, while Dave Nussbaum was named chief data officer. Former PHM managing director Jedd Davis moved to parent organization Publicis Health as chief product officer.
Palmer notes that the new roles line up with what she calls “our big bets” in innovation and data. “This C-suite focus allows us to organize differently underneath and it’s created new opportunities for others within,” she says. “As we continue our growth, having people in these senior-level roles to help craft and shape those offerings will help us get there faster.”
PHM’s revenue jumped almost 27% last year, to $95 million from 2017’s take of $75 million. It did so despite a nine-person drop in head count, to 368 full-timers. The agency added nine new accounts, including more generalized health and wellness work, and lost four.
As a pure media firm, PHM has spent much time in recent years grappling with the evolution of media buying toward data-driven and programmatic techniques. On top of that, the agency has strived to ensure that what Palmer characterizes as “the special considerations” of pharma companies are always taken into account. While government pressure has changed how PHM goes about its business, Palmer notes one side effect: It has made pharma clients more aware of their advertising.
“It’s a question I get regularly from our clients: Is it right to be using mass media in the typical ways, considering the pressures on pricing?” Palmer explains. “It hasn’t driven sweeping change, but it’s something that causes us and our clients to be a little bit more thoughtful and strategic about how we want to take the cultural landscape into account.”
Palmer expects 2019 to be another substantial growth year for PHM, estimating another revenue gain in the 20%-25% range. While she points to a handful of pressing challenges — among others, calibrating its approach to accommodate younger doctors as the older generation begins to retire — Palmer believes PHM is in fine shape to surmount them.
“We’re entering uncharted territory,” she says. “We’ve got new voices in the room with the rise of the health-and-wellness influencer and we’ve got more and more people, both patients and physicians, paying attention to external influencers online in ways that they haven’t before. A lot of this is changing the traditional way that marketers think about how to drive results — and I think it’s really exciting.”