Code Worldwide

One year on since PHD's Source changes the game in media

Matt McNeany

Matt McNeany

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

A year ago, Code & PHD announced a partnership, their ambition was to change how a global agency network creates value for its clients. The result of this collaboration is Source, PHD's operating system which melds data with game-theory and social software. The impact of Source has been significant, winning business, awards, further enhancing PHD's reputation as the industry's innovator and creating a new culture within the network. This is how Source changed the game. Technology Leadership to respond to Technology Challenge.

Media planning has got a whole lot more complex.The media agency’s monopoly on data and buying power has been eroded by 'Big Data' and 'D.S.P's (Demand Side Platform).  PHD has long been a clear intellectual leader in the industry, but whilst technology has been commoditising other agencies's positioning, how could PHD prove this leadership?  What is the proof-point for clients?

Source is the embodiment of PHD’s strategic leadership – it uses technology to create a new model for delivering services to PHD’s clients.  It's built on the vision created by Mark Holden of how a network of 75 offices can use social technology, data and game theory to transform the media planning process.  It introduces scientific rigor into idea generation, using data to inspire and identify opportunity, rewarding collaboration and creating a single methodology which works globally and locally.

Source Success Stories

It works - 1,500 media planners in 75 countries are using Source each day.  Within 3 months of using the service 75% of PHD employees from CEO's to trainees were active in Source and generating ‘pings’.   The media planning for key clients including Lynx, Ben & Jerry’s, GSK, Surf, Kraft, Magnum & Unilever are now planned each day in all PHD’s offices using Source.

It wins clients – Source was widely reported to be crucial in PHD’s successful Unilever $3bn win.  

It builds reputation - PHD were acclaimed as Agency of the Year by Adweek.  

How and why has Source Succeeded?

The thought of a ‘global media operating system’ hardly quickens the pulse.  But Source succeeds because it is radical and inventive – and (whisper it) fun to use.  It is powered by huge, robust data, but it embraces talent and rewards creativity.  It's fundamentally human – it allows PHD’s people to be their best, creating insight and value for their clients.  Using Source helps you be better at your job – it makes you feel good about yourself.

“The Agency Network is a Social Network”

Source is inherently social.  Planners from all PHD’s offices are encouraged and empowered to collaborate, and rewarded when they do.  Source creates a common platform and process for collaboration and allows employees to share ideas, get instant feedback from colleagues and mobile panels and validate their thinking with experts around the world.


“The Game is the Game.”  

Source is built as a global multi-player game, one you win by essentially doing your job right.  Each action you take in Source (segmenting an audience, contributing an idea, optimising reach etc) earns you ‘Pings’.  You can track your performance versus your local and global colleagues on leaderboards.  By gamifying the planning process, Source reinforces every day with every action the culture that PHD wants to create.  

Source’s adoption of game-theory to drive business change is now recognised as one of the leading examples in this area, as it can point to success in using the techniques of incentives, bench-marking, playfulness and competition in delivering enterprise change on a global level. Indeed PHD took over the Cannes festival this year, gamifying the event and demonstrating how to establish a culture and change behaviour through play.

Building on this success, Code and PHD are currently the centre of a study led by Warwick Business School in the role of gamification in business.  

Big Data – that you can play with

Source is designed to encourage innovation through idea-generation techniques and collaboration – but critically backs up ideas with access to real-time market and performance data.  Source integrates a number of 3rd party and 1st party data sources (including Euromonitor, Forrester, WARC, Mintel, Telmar, BrandScience, nVision& Research Now) to give PHD’s planners and clients a competitive advantage.  


But true to Source’s game-theory, big data in Source is not presented as dull, static tables.  Source allows you to play with the data:  rich html5 interfaces encourage users to scenario plan and test different ideas.  The interface is so rich, you can’t help but ‘fiddle’ and test out new ideas of how to optimise client’s media spend.  

Source Testimonies

Don’t take our word for it – read what clients and the industry has to say about Source:

The main purpose of Source & theory of Gamification is that tasks engaged with are generally the most enjoyable, and are going to keep your attention span for an increased length of time. Let's not forget here it's also above all, a social experience. This process appeals to primitive factors intrinsic in human beings such as 'social capital', self-verification based on status and peers perceptions and desire to interact with those that are like-minded.

‘‘Source is the product of a really smart team from the leadership to the tech team.  It’s been a pleasure to work with this group and even better to see their efforts recognized & rewarded.’’

-Code Worldwide Founder, Matt McNeany

Source Testimonies

What’s next?

Source is in continual development.  We are currently adding more data sources to enrich the planners’ ability to segment audiences.  We are also extending the device presence for Source – to create immersive experiences on desktop, mobile and physically within PHD offices.

Perhaps the most exciting area has been the learnings we have taken out of making Source into a multi-player game.  We’ve been applying that learning to our other clients and are seeing similar benefits to collaboration, compliance and culture.