OMG Names Joanna O’Connell NA Chief Intelligence Officer

Former Forrester analyst Joanna O’Connell is joining Omnicom Media Group (OMG) as its first chief intelligence officer in North America. At the helm of the group’s marketplace intelligence team, O’Connell will continue her work as a media analyst to provide the group’s clients insight into market trends and changes.

O’Connell began her career in 2000 at the agency Avenue A, and now joins OMG after taking a hiatus from the agency side of the business. She most recently was vice president of innovation at the marketing consultancy R3. Before that, she covered omnichannel advertising research as a principal analyst at Forrester Research and led marketing for ad-tech firm MediaMath.

Ben Hovaness, a senior vp of marketplace intelligence at OMG, previously curated its Future Signals educational program, which helps agency employees and clients prepare for industry changes like cookie deprecation. Hovaness is now stepping down from OMG to assume the global chief media officer role at the group’s largest agency, OMD.

Traditionally, agencies wait for a project brief before digging into work. That’s changing, though, as agencies lean into more consulting projects and become involved with their clients’ business or growth goals. Industry analysts like O’Connell have advisory backgrounds and are used to guiding brand marketers’ decisions.

“I think we’re putting intention behind that spirit that’s been so consistent for us over the past two and a half years—really positioning ourselves as a modern media consultant, and modern marketing consultant, and bringing in those resources to help us do that,” said OMG North America CEO Ralph Pardo.

Industry analysis and a consultative approach

O’Connell will develop and expand the Future Signals series, and join OMG agency leaders, clients and media partners on the group’s Council for Accountability Standards in Advertising (CASA).

“Some roles you do end up shaping for the people that you speak to. I think this is a real good example of that,” Pardo told Adweek. Marketplace intelligence has evolved, he added, and simultaneously, clients expect more from their agency partners than they used to.

To address that, O’Connell will expand OMG’s research beyond media-oriented challenges to include bigger industry trends. Clients, Pardo said, are asking about more complex questions, like where AI fits in their strategies. With O’Connell in the new role, Pardo hopes OMG will “bridge the gap” between its understanding of media trends, and its thought leadership and primary research objectives.

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