WPP is planning to strengthen its data operations – what it describes as “data investment management” – even further after revealing records profit growth for 2014, with a strong performance in the US, the UK and continental Europe.
It has set aside an acquisition war-chest of between £300m and £400m as it seeks to snap up businesses whch specialise in the big data and digital media.
The group, led by Sir Martin Sorrell, revealed its interim results today although did not provide a breakdown of which areas of the business have witnessed the biggest growth.
WPP reported pre-tax profits of £1.45bn in 2014, up 12% year on year, while revenue in January was up 6.7%, with net sales up 3.9%, as it saw a strong start to the year.
It said its budgets for 2015 have been prepared on cautiously, forecasting like-for-like revenue and net sales growth of over 3%, and a target net sales margin improvement of 0.3 point.
WPP already brings in more than £10bn in revenue from its data marketing operations; over 25% of WPP’s annual income. As far back as 2013, Sorrell claimed “we are now Maths Men not Mad Men”, in reference to the American TV show about adland.
It had even been claimed that the group was eyeing up a bid for Tesco’s DunnHumby division, although this seems unlikely given the fact the retailer has now said it plans only a partial sale of the business.
In December, WPP signed an £800m big data deal with IBM to transform the group’s global technology platform and launch new digital services to help its clients get closer to their customers.
As part of the seven-year agreement, IBM will provide a service delivery and technology platform that allows WPP to integrate its data and technology operations, while boosting productivity.
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