CMI Media Group and Compas
Full-service, non-personal promotion planning & buying and investment management 88%
Data and customer insights 12%
Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals
Bristol Myers Squibb
Horizon Pharma USA
Johnson & Johnson
Otsuka America Pharmaceutical
WINNER: Vision Award
FINALIST: DE&I Champion
Omnichannel has been the word of the year for many brands, as this strategy has become recognized for its impact. Management says CMI Media Group and Compas have taken ownership of this trend, innovating the approach and guiding clients to integrate omnichannel for their brands. The group had predicted this trend several years ago and had begun directing clients toward this strategy, and 2021 marked the ubiquitous adoption industry-wide. Speaking to the trend onstage at Advertising Week in October, and with a panel on the topic accepted via the highly competitive 2022 SXSW panel picker, the agency’s experts this year brought this ideology to a wider audience.
“Omnichannel is a way to take current multi-channel “push” marketing and convert it into a more meaningful engagement where all the channels are more connected and work seamlessly with one another based on data-driven insights of where their targets are and how they want to be reached,” management says. “Overall, it is a much more personalized experience. Omnichannel is more than media – it is inclusive of all the ways in which an individual can engage with a brand.”
CMI Media Group and Compas’s approach is very centered around the ecosystem of the individual, whether consumer/patient, caregiver or HCP.
“We have created a way to seamlessly integrate every touchpoint across all media that our clients’ audiences interact with – even including sales reps – to ensure not just consistency, but to take it to a more meaningful level that resonates with individual audiences,” says Dr. Susan Dorfman, president and CEO, CMI Media Group.
PROACT™ Rep, which CMI Media Group launched in 2021 and which received PM360’s innovation award in December, allows the company’s clients to extend the omnichannel experience to their sales reps – which is an industry first and only, according to the leadership team.
Management says the company experienced a similar industry reaction to its proselytizing of the social audio and sonic branding trend. According to Mark Pappas, senior VP of innovation at CMI Media Group, “I’ve never before seen a bigger interest in a single vertical – clients are recognizing there’s an incredible opportunity to find their voice, literally, with sonic branding. This has been a perfect stars-aligning year, where consumers’ interest in audio has continued to rise, publishers are offering more and more opportunities for advertisers, and brands are ready to jump in.”
A challenge facing many companies – and CMI Media Group and Compas were no exception, management says – has been the nationwide staffing shortage. The companies prioritized employee well-being and employed creative solutions to address this ongoing problem. This included increasing and modifying recruiting efforts, slowing new business growth, increased investments in culture and more.
The leadership team says the first priority was ensuring that employees, clients and partners had the support they needed, and the companies employed listening to accomplish their goals. Listening took many forms, including formal surveys, one to one interviews and focus groups.
“Our best ideas have come from our people, and that has been especially true during the last few years as we reshaped how we work,” notes Compas CEO James Woodland. “Listening is an important first step, and critical to making real, meaningful improvements that bring us into the future of work.”
By putting employees at the center of two-way communication, the leadership team was able to identify ways to offer support and decrease stress levels. This responsive leadership approach included expanding the flexible work schedule program, providing home office stipends, streamlining internal communications, offering workshops on coping techniques, and taking an official corporate stance and providing education and charitable donations related to social issues important to them.
The results: 339 new employees added in 2021, a lower than industry average turnover rate, and higher than industry average boomerang rate, according to management.
Steady and consistent growth has continued for CMI Media Group and Compas, which executives state has become the go-to strategic media partner for a significant portion of the industry. “Rather than simply executing media buys, the company uses a mix of proprietary technology and highly skilled staff to help clients target key audiences often to the individual level,” the leadership team says. “The company’s upward trajectory of growth, which has been steady since its founding, is due to its superior client deliverables rewarded by an industry-leading client retention rate and new business wins, allowing CMI Media Group and Compas to sustain double-digit annual revenue growth over the last several years. This also allowed the company to build its superstar ranks, with employee growth mirroring that of revenue, including hires at every level across the organization.”
Over the last decade, CMI Media Group and Compas combined have had more than 606 percent revenue growth, and 442 percent staff growth.
Award wins spanned recognition for the company’s work and culture, including recognition as a top and most innovative agency in various categories by Med Ad News, MM+M, PM360, Digiday and PharmaVOICE. For the second time, CMI Media Group was recognized by Adweek as one of the fastest growing agencies in the world.
A highlight of CMI Media Group innovation is PROACT™ Rep. Officially launched in 2021, PROACT™ Rep is the first and only offering allowing pharmaceutical sales reps to have full control over digital media to support promotional needs, company executives say.
“Facetime with healthcare providers has been a growing challenge, and the ‘new normal’ the pandemic created requires reps to prioritize digital tools that go beyond details and email,” management says. “PROACT™ Rep empowers reps to directly influence media based on their unique insights and operate as territorial brand managers. Reps have first-hand intelligence of customer needs, behaviors, attitudes, and this tool allows them to utilize multi-channel media (email, display/programmatic, custom programs, direct mail and social media) – everywhere healthcare providers (HCPs) consume digital media.”
The agency describes PROACT™ Rep as the first and only healthcare media orchestration and automation platform to get from data to insights to action immediately. “It allows users to make real-time media investment decisions for their customers through an intuitive user interface that provides actionable intelligence and a host of media sequencing options,” company executives say. “The rep doesn’t have to be an expert in all media channels, instead they only need to know their customer and the application automatically executes based on the user’s input and insight.”
CMI Media Group’s leadership team maintains that the agency also continued to drive omnichannel success with its proprietary offering Empower ™, which they say is the health industry’s first and only closed-loop planning platform that enables continuous and personalized “insight to action” at scale.
“Empower™ allows CMI Media Group to close the loop on integrated consumer/HCP audience planning, messaging and outreach, making every campaign more effective,” management says. “The platform offers cross-audience customer universe identification, segmentation, media planning, activation, measurement and ongoing people-based optimization. By leveraging consumer and HCP data together, CMI Media Group is able to achieve integrated messaging to inform audiences, messaging, media strategy, and ultimately drive engagement to impact your brand’s bottom line.” The agency states that the Empower ™ platform allows the creation of audiences from over 265 million consumers and 1.5 million healthcare professionals across 26 physician specialties, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, RNs, pharmacists, medical students and other prescribers.”
According to CMI Media Group’s leaders, the agency “revolutionized” the way top pharma brands engage physicians with Own the Audience™, an award-winning method of uncovering opportunities with low- and no-see HCPs.
“Solely through non-personal promotional efforts, Own the Audience™ has created an average uptick of over 72 percent on scripts written,” management says. “A critical and incredible aspect: CMI Media Group decided to forgo upfront payment for our research, our planning time, our creative input, campaign supervision and measurement tools. Instead, the company partners with brands on the upside of their success. Own the Audience™ continues to lead as an impactful offering for the agency’s clients.”
Inclusion and diversity continues to be a major focus for the agency, its leaders say. Although the agency has a diverse staff and leadership, executives believe it is important to formalize inclusion efforts to ensure the company’s positive track record of diversity continues and remains sustainable through its growth.
This has included employee-led initiatives that are supported by corporate leadership. In 2021, CMI Media Group and Compas formally launched several Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). ERG leads partner with the executive team to drive education and better practices and policies across the organization. In addition, Stan Woodland, executive chairman and founder of CMI Media Group and Compas, continued to serve on the WPP Inclusion Council.
CMI Media Group and Compas also supported positive change among clients. This included partnering with research firm Community Marketing and Insights to create a study focusing on the healthcare communications needs of LGBTQ+ consumers, the results of which were shared at several conferences. There was also partnering with diverse agencies across WPP to produce educational sessions for clients.
“For over 30 years Compas has been partnering with the industry’s leading media providers, as well as up-and-coming innovators – representing all channels and tactics – positioning them for success with healthcare clients and agencies,” agency leaders say. “As stewards of our clients’ media investments, Compas is committed to enforcing the highest standards of buying execution, effectiveness, transparency and accountability while leveraging our clients’ collective buying power through a consortium that unlocks incremental savings.”
Compas is certified by the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council as a minority-owned-and-operated business and generates significant Tier 1 and Tier 2 Diverse Spend.
Structure and Services
CMI Media Group and Compas are structured to address the challenges and core needs of its customers, prospects and supplier partners – enabling the integrated full-service suite of offerings to its clients or stand-alone solutions for those who need them most.
These services include strategic media/promotional planning and buying; co-marketing opportunities; promotional execution and investment management/buying services; addressable and connected TV; customer insights and analytics; supplier alliance management; primary market research; programmatic display, audio and video; SEM and SEO; social listening and advertising; content planning; and global reprints.
Proprietary technology and solutions include Empower™; Media Vitals™ , which now has both consumer and prescriber data; performance-based compensation models such as Own the Audience™ and Compas Media Buying); AdMission (programmatic); and PROACT™ (CXM) and PROACT™ Rep.
CMI Media Group is launching an “Inclusive Media” offering, leveraging its position and capabilities in bringing diversity equity and inclusivity to media, the company says.
“The focus of the Inclusive Media Center of Excellence is on personalized engagement at scale, and understanding the whole person, not just their consumer proxy,” leadership says. “The company’s strategists engage with clients’ audiences in the ways they want to be reached, optimizing messaging to fit their lives with a deeper understanding of the audiences and their health journeys.”
According to the leadership team, “Everyone is buzzing about the metaverse, and CMI Media Group and Compas have eyes on this emerging channel as an extension of relationship building with consumers and HCPs. A recent study by WPP sister agency Wunderman Thompson shares that 88 percent of those surveyed want their avatars to have the same values as they do; the avatar will be an extension of the individual rather than an alternative. Thus, ‘direct to avatar’ marketing is a likely part of future ad campaigns, and the metaverse is going to become an important part of the omnichannel experience. CMI Media Group and Compas continue to build partnerships with Meta/Facebook, Amazon, Snap, and others that are playing in this space.”
The companies are also exploring opportunities in partnerships with audio channels such as Pandora and iHeartMedia as audio branding moves to the forefront. “The goal is several pharma-firsts as opportunities abound, with continually rising adoption of podcasts and other audio media,” management says.
Giving back to the community is a cornerstone of the agency’s corporate culture, and that philanthropic spirit was seen quite a bit in 2021. The organization worked with its ERGs to extend the traditional volunteer day into a series of days where employees could give back. ERG-led volunteer days include MLK Day of service in January; International Women’s Day in March; Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) in April; National Disability Independence Day in July; National Coming Out Day in October; and International Day for Tolerance and Giving Tuesday in November.
Employees’ volunteer hours and monetary donations were made to a wide range of nonprofits spanning healthcare and social issues, as well as providing resources to families in need.
Additionally, CMI Media Group and Compas continued to fundraise and raise awareness for the Liguori Academy library, which officially opened to students in 2021. “Beginning in 2020, CMI Media Group and Compas employees rallied to raise funds to fill a room with the books on Liguori teachers’ wish lists. The agency matched every dollar employees raised, and in February 2021 donated funds to cover bookshelves and other costs as well.”
The company has also partnered with Liguori Academy to support the students with fundraising, mentoring and with an Advisory Board made up of CMI Media Group staff volunteering their time and skills to help the school.
According to the leadership team, CMI Media Group and Compas’ culture starts with living their employee value proposition, “Brilliant Minds. Big Hearts. Bold Opportunities.” This creates an inclusive culture where integrity and service are paramount, while providing opportunities for development and career growth that employees can own. The culture supports and holds leadership accountable to provide caring and open environments for all employees through regular communication and providing peers the opportunity to recognize each other.
“While turnover is a natural occurrence in agencies, CMI Media Group and Compas’ turnover is much lower than the industry average. People leave for a variety of reasons; however, what is extraordinary and very telling is the unprecedented number of employees who return after a short hiatus. Several dozen employees, affectionately known as Boomerangs, have returned. It serves to validate that our culture, our commitment to employee development and our priorities are very much aligned to our staff’s needs and desires.”
CMI Media Group and Compas have a transparent culture in which feedback from employees is collected and acted on in a variety of ways that allow employees to participate in coaching, recognizing each other, and demonstrating appreciation for each other “while celebrating living our values of ownership and accountability, acting with respect and integrity and putting employee, client and partner satisfaction first. CMI Media Group and Compas has been continually recognized for its positive corporate culture.”
And this past year, 227 people earned promotions, and 376 were with the company for two or more years, many celebrating five, 10, 15, 20 and even 30-year anniversaries.