Martin Sorrell: WPP to generate 40% of business from digital over 5 years

14/08/2013

Marketing giant WPP is aiming to generate 5-40% of its business from digital sources and fast-growth markets, chief executive Martin Sorrell has announced.

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The move comes weeks after the merger of rivals Omnicom and Publicis, which will overtake WPP as the world's biggest ad group.

WPP is second to Publicis in terms of digital revenues (30% compared with 33%). However, the two will switch places as the less digitally nimble Omnicom drags the merged entity down to 24%.

In a signal to clients that WPP is moving forward, Sorrell declared that the targets were being raised "to at least 40-45% each over the next five years".

In a LinkedIn post he wrote: "Our strategy is simple: new markets, new media, data investment management and last but not least 'horizontality'."

These four objectives, said Sorrell, "simply reflect the most significant recent general trends in client behaviour, and a strategic response to them".

As well as the focus on digital and growth markets, he signalled an intention to "broaden our 'horizontality' approach" which would entail adding more client leaders and country managers in order to ensure the 165,000 strong workforce in 110 countries worked together more effectively for clients.

On the fourth objective, Sorrell said that, at 25% of the business, the level of data investment management - "previously known as consumer insight or market research" - was currently correct.

WPP would, he added, remain focused on a consistent strategy, unlike others in the industry who "may take strategic leaps backwards for various odd or inconsistent or contradictory reasons".

Sorrell also remarked on Amazon's recent acquisition of the Washington Post, which he described as an "era-defining announcement".

"We'll have to wait to see how the Washington Kindle fares, both commercially and editorially, and whether an Amazon treatment can turn analog dimes into more than digital pennies," Sorrell added, "but the point is made: a new breed of media owner has very much arrived."

LinkedIn's Influencer programme involves 300 leaders publishing their views, including US president Barack Obama and serial entrepreneur Richard Branson, on a range of topics on the website.

LinkedIn users will not be able to make an official business "connection" with Sorrell, but will be able to "follow" him in a similar way to how Twitter operates.

"As WPP deepens its relationships with digital platforms like Linkedin, I'm delighted to join its Influencer programme," he said. "It's another extremely effective way to emphasise the growing importance of digital and social media in our commercial and personal lives; to signal how we're focusing even more laser-like on our strategy; and to talk about how we will develop it in the future and accelerate its implementation".

Read Martin Sorrell's blog post here

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