Data beats UK slump but WPP digital fears remain

martin-sorrellWPP’s data business is one of only two parts of the group’s UK operation to have escaped the post-Brexit slowdown, along with PR, although the group has warned that clients and agencies should work together to tackle concerns about digital marketing measurement, and “not antagonise each other”.
Overall, the owner of Wunderman and OgilvyOne reported a 3.2% rise in global group revenue to £3.61bn on a like-for-like basis, excluding acquisitions and disposals.
UK revenue has still grown in Q3 – up 2.1% to £461m on a like-for-like basis – but advertising has taken a hit.
The data unit, which WPP describes as data investment management, is benefitting from what the firm calls “a growing recognition of the value of real data businesses, rather than those that depend on third party data, and an opportunity to demonstrate meaningful and sustainable competitive differentiation, through integration of media investment management and data investment management insights”.
PR showed positive net sales growth in quarter three, with particularly strong growth in the UK, Continental Europe, Latin America and Africa.”
In the first nine months of 2016, 38.5% of the group’s revenue came from direct, digital and interactive, inching up 1% from the previous year. Digital revenue across the group was up strongly, over 6% like-for-like.
However, WPP warned of the growing client concern around what one major client, in particular, calls the three ‘v’s, value, viewability and verification, mainly in relation to online video.
Another major client has raised questions about the distribution of online spending, if not the absolute level. There is also client concern with the unequal measurement standards between offline and online media, heightened by independent research indicating higher levels of ‘bots’ viewing than measured by Google and a mistake in viewing time statistics by Facebook.
WPP said: “We remain committed to the highest standards of clarity and transparency on media buying and leading the industry in developing more contemporary measurement standards in offline and digital media, which even some of our competitors now acknowledge.
“As one of our clients has also very recently pointed out, the way to achieve this is for clients and agencies to build trust in one another and work together, not antagonise one another.”
WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell (pictured) told the BBC: “We have to watch what impact Brexit is going to have in the fourth quarter. All in all, it’s a good set of numbers in the third quarter, but it’s tough sledding. There’s low growth, low inflation, and our clients are very focused on costs.”

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