Media Giant WPP Sees Its Digital Future



While you may be aware of WPP in general it may be worth a look to see just how big this media conglomerate is. Last week the company stated that digital will account for 2/3 of its business over the next three to four years. Considering they did about $13 billion in revenue in 2009 this is no small statement.

Those of us on the Internet marketing side of the fence tend to see this kind of announcement and scoff by saying “No kidding! You finally figured it out, huh?” which can be fun for a moment of over time starts to sound childish. The world has moved at breakneck speed to the digital side of the ledger and in the process is undoing how media has been bought and sold for the past 60 years or so. Nothing that big and entrenched changes overnight.

In the paidContent section of The Guardian is some more data to wrap your head around:

New media sales accounted for 27 percent of the advertising and marketing group’s revenues, or $3.6 billion. This is already a big step: to compare, one competitor, Havas, last month said that digital accounts for 16 percent of its revenues to account for one-fifth of its revenues by the end of 2010.

WPP appears to be pegging its own digital revenue share to stats that are coming out on how much time people are spending online. Sir Martin Sorrell pointed out that recent figures show that this too is currently hovering around the 27-28 percent mark.

Mark Read, director of strategy and CEO of WPP Digital, touted the company’s specialist digital expertise in the earnings call: “We have to have digital in all our businesses.” The company is continuing to integrate technology platforms into the business, and industry partnerships with companies like Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), Facebook, MySpace (NYSE: NWS) and Omniture (NSDQ: OMTR), now owned by Adobe.

A curious omission (probably more of an oversight) is no mention of Twitter but hey they are still trying to figure out this digital thing, right? I suspect that WPP being this aggressive in their statement is sending a message to their competition that they are going to be a leader in this area. Of course, this has not come easy thus far

Digital is a blessing and a curse, says Read: “Technology is shaping our industry…however this is confusing for our clients and extremely complicated to manage.”

OK, as any good agency guy is going to do he is going to push the “confusion” to his clients. It may be more confusing to clients as to why it has taken WPP this long to figure all this out. Read set up a nice “out” as well by saying this is extremely complicated to manage. Isn’t that why you are hired as an agency for these things? Oh well, like I said earlier, this is a process.

Well, if you want to learn more keep your eyes open for WPP’s “Digital Day” on April 23 where they will share more information on their digital strategy. Sounds more a class trip so maybe they’ll supply a box lunch too!