The CEO of agency giant IPG welcomes challengers to Facebook and Google: 'The more the merrier'

  • IPG CEO Michael Roth says he's happy to see representatives from Amazon, Snap, Twitter, and other competitors to Facebook and Google at Cannes.
  • He says there's been no major pullback in digital advertising spend as a result of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica data leak.
  • He also says his compensation is based in part on diversity metrics.

"How do we reach the right consumer in a safe way?"

That's what Michael Roth, CEO of ad agency holding company IPG, says he's focused on at the Cannes Lions festival, where he's meeting with the tech platforms and clients.

This year, he's looking at the range of platforms that might grow to pose a threat to the digital duopoly — Google and Facebook.

"The more the merrier," Roth says, pointing to Amazon, Snap, Spotify, Twitter and the other brands lining the Cannes Croisette as increasingly important alternatives to the giants that dominate the vast majority of digital ad dollars.

Roth says that in the wake of Facebook's data privacy scandal, some of his brands paused spending, but "we haven't seen a big pullback in advertising."

Michael Roth, IPG CEO.
Michael Newberg | CNBC
Michael Roth, IPG CEO.

In fact, one of IPG's agencies, Magna, just upped its projection for global ad growth this year from 5.2 percent to 6.4 percent, thanks to the increase in ad revenue Facebook and Google reported in the first quarter — and despite ongoing questions about brand safety and data privacy.

As for the consolidation in the media industry, with AT&T completing its acquisition of Time Warner, Roth says the opportunity of these combined companies to have better insights to target consumers is better for his agencies and their clients.

Against the backdrop of the market decline on concerns about a trade war, Roth says "our industry typically follows GDP," though he would recommend that his clients spend more during a pullback to gain share with their clients.

Here in Cannes, Roth is hosting a breakfast with Gloria Steinem and #MeToo founder Tarna Burke on diversity, a topic that has been in focus for Roth for a number of years.

"We're representing particular consumers. If we don't represent them we aren't doing our job and we can't do that if we are all white men."

Roth's compensation and the compensation of the CEOs that report to him are tied to diversity metrics. "There's no question there is a correlation between a diverse business environment and results."