‘This performance mindset can just explode’: iProspect’s Gonzales talks about building future media models

Last week was a big one for the performance side of the agency business. Omnicom Media Group’s purchase of performance marketing agency Jump 450 came a day after longtime Publicis Media executive Danielle Gonzales left to join Dentsu’s iProspect agency as North American CEO. 

Gonzales takes over just nine months since Dentsu folded its Vizeum media shop into iProspect to form a full-service media agency with a particular focus on performance. She will oversee some 1,000 staffers across the U.S. and Canada, but will continue to work out of Chicago, where she had spent the prior 25 years working in various Publicis roles, including at multicultural agency Tapestry, followed by tenure at Starcom and, most recently, chief client officer for all of Publicis Media. 

She spoke with Digiday just two days into her new role that has enabled her to “lead a very large organization and to create a team … built for the future.”

The following Q&A has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

You’re taking over iProspect as it’s morphing into a full-service media agency. How much work is left to round it out? 

The vision for the new iProspect is essentially taking the best of the performance work the team has been doing for so many of our clients, and the best of the Vizeum brand work we were also doing. Now we’re relaunching iProspect as an end-to-end media offering in service for our clients, but with that performance mindset at the fore. 

This is one of the reasons I joined the company: this is the future way that we’ll do marketing. When you think about the pressure all CMOs have on accountability, when you think about being able to track sales, to understand what levers to pull to optimize and grow, this performance mindset can just explode and help us with all the pieces. 

Think of media as a ladder. Most people start at the top of the ladder with strategic work and general thinking about consumers, then work their way down. We’re actually starting at the bottom of the ladder and climbing our way up. We plan to do that full service, but now we’ve got real behavior, real sales data and real information about consumers to build the top part of that ladder. 

Merkle has a lot of that data as it has grown within Dentsu. How will iProspect work with it? 

[Dentsu, IPG and Publicis] all have such wonderful ways of harmonizing that data within their systems. Merkle has strong capabilities, it’s very secure data, which makes me happy to know it’s been collected in the right ways and used in appropriate ways. It’s our team’s ability to unleash the power of that data, and that’s where iProspect is very well positioned.

You’ve left Publicis after 25 years amid a lot of change. Did those changes make you say it’s time for a change? 

I can say nothing but good things about them, I love that company, I love their leadership, it was my home for so long. But I’ve always had a dream to lead a very large organization and to create a team and organization built for the future. There’s no time like now. When I understood the offering of iProspect — and I’ve always admired the teams at Dentsu — I was so drawn to its expertise at the core. 

Performance marketing is having its day, whether though acquisition or building from within as you are. What’s left to build to reach its goals?  

My focus initially is on harmonizing the team, and cross-training or building the teams so that they have the complete expertise needed to deliver this proposition. We already have teams working together, but how can I accelerate that some more?  How does it feel like we’re completely one body and we’re seeing the whole media system for our clients? We’re thinking about feeding the upper funnel so we can do great work in the lower funnel.

Any specific ideas on where to implement change or adoopt new approaches? 

Some are emerging ideas that would change the business model, and how we’re servicing clients who need different services. Not every client has the same operating model or consumer base. For example, the team does great work in B2B [marketing], but I don’t think we’re leveraging it in the marketplace. 

Dentsu recently announced a cross-agency effort around gaming. How will iProspect get clients involved? 

Gaming is a big piece when thinking about commerce. I’m looking forward to bringing all of that creative thinking to our clients, because if the audience is there, the opportunity is there. You can just imagine the delivery in gaming. So there’s just so many ways to engage there that are in the performance wheelhouse.


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