Report by Mark Read (below) Chief executive officer
We enjoyed positive growth across WPP Digital during 2010. While the economic backdrop was challenging, we laid the foundation for the launch of Possible Worldwide in February 2011 and continued our investment in proprietary technologies, both of which will provide a strong platform for further growth.
24/7 Real Media
David Moore (below) Chairman
24/7 Real Media is at the centre of our strategy to invest in proprietary technologies where critical, and to partner with industry leaders when possible; the aim being to develop an integrated technology platform, which allows our clients to reach their customers more effectively. During 2010, 24/7 Real Media continued to pursue this strategy with considerable success, both in its own business, where it operates in 12 countries through 18 offices and in partnership with other WPP companies. 24/7 Real Media significantly extended the reach of its proprietary technologies by expanding into key developing markets such as China and Brazil. Its market-leading ad management platform, Open AdStream, delivered 1.2 trillion ads across thousands of websites in 2010 – equivalent to more than one ad per day for every internet user. And the Web Alliance continued to strengthen, finishing the year ranked as the sixth largest advertising network by reach in the US.
Media Innovation Group
The Media Innovation Group (MIG) is WPP’s digital marketing technology hub, serving advertisers and agencies with the most complete multi-channel digital advertising solution currently in the market. Based on a unified data management platform that is proprietary to WPP and its companies’ clients, the MIG’s unique combination of technology and service better hones and analyses digital media campaigns across every digital consumer touchpoint to optimise the campaigns and generate long-term business value for clients.
In 2010, its second full year of operations, the MIG successfully grew to $750 million in billings globally across display, search, video, social and mobile. The MIG’s in-house technology development team, which counts a former top rocket scientist in the Russian space program among its many PhDs, continued to build its lead over competitors by innovating continuously along an aggressive product roadmap. Examples include real-time auction-based media bidding technology and a state-of-the-art analytics product suite, designed to bridge the gap between the limited conventional online ad metrics based on clicks and impressions and the true ROI and brand lift measurement that marketers require.
Trevor Kaufman (below left) Chief executive officer Possible Worldwide
Jay Woffington (below right) Global president Possible Worldwide
The past year saw continued success for four of WPP’s digital agencies – BLUE, Bridge Worldwide, Schematic and Quasar – while they simultaneously prepared to merge in 2011.
In 2010, for the second consecutive year, BLUE was named the top agency by Marketing magazine in Singapore, and was the only digital agency to make it to the top 10. Under new leadership, the China business grew significantly and enjoyed a record year. BLUE continued to build its client roster, adding leading brands such as Nike, Johnnie Walker, Barclays, Kimberly-Clark, L’Oreal, and Mastercard. Investment in talent and training resulted in an expansion of skills and capabilities – most notably mobile and tablet apps, user experience, analytics, social, and video.
Bridge Worldwide, a leading US digital and relationship marketing agency, continued its strong revenue growth. Established client relationships at Procter & Gamble, Abbott Labs, and ConAgra Foods remained strong while new clients Southern Comfort, Timberland, DirecTV, Hasbro and Hershey’s were added. The agency’s creative department also made huge strides, winning over 40 digital creative awards. Building off a Gold Cyber Lion in 2009, Bridge’s work on Procter & Gamble’s Pringles brand was recognized by the Webby Awards (including the People’s Choice Award), the CLIOs, the Sammys and the One Show. The agency’s book, The Next Evolution of Marketing, Connect with Your Customers by Marketing with Meaning, formed the core of a seminar at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival that featured the CMOs of P&G, AT&T, Samsung and Kraft. In recognition of the agency’s focus on its people and its culture, Bridge was named one of the Top 25 Best Places to Work by the Great Place to Work Institute – for a fifth consecutive year.
Schematic had a successful 2010, with several prestigious new business wins, including Google, Mazda, Southern California Edison, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford, and the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Schematic also continued to build on its strong existing client relationships with such brands as Dell, Comcast, Time Warner, and Orange.
Quasar strengthened its position as one of India’s leading digital agencies. 2010 was a record year with a combination of sustained growth from its domestic client base, and rapid growth of its international production business. At the Indian Digital Media Awards, it took home Best Corporate Site Gold for its work on Apollo Munich Health Insurance. Quasar’s leading clients included Microsoft, Eureka Forbes, General Motors, Apollo Munich Health, and Skoda.
In February 2011, BLUE, Quasar, Schematic and Bridge Worldwide announced that they had combined to form a new global agency network, Possible Worldwide. With 18 offices in nine countries, including the US, China, India, Singapore, the UK, Costa Rica, Kenya and UAE. Possible Worldwide has nearly 1,000 employees worldwide and is expected to have more than $100 million of net revenue for 2011. The agency will continue to have digital at its core, but will be focused on creating meaningful and measurable interactions with customers, from strategy through execution. The four agencies chose to come together not just because of complementary geographic reach, but because of a shared philosophy: that the balance of marketing needs to go beyond ‘communications’, which is focused on broadcasting messages, and towards ‘interactions’, focused on delivering value to customers.
Over the next few years, our strategy is to grow Possible Worldwide even further, by winning new clients and extending relationships with existing clients around the world, as well as by an aggressive acquisition plan.
In recognition of clients’ needs to produce quality digital work more cost-effectively, we took the decision to invest in high-quality, low-cost production with the establishment of Deliver in 2008. In its second full year, Deliver continued to grow its production work with Nokia, its founding client, and expanded its work with AstraZeneca in both the US and internationally. Deliver now serves a growing number of the Group’s largest clients including Colgate, Ford, IBM and Nokia. Deliver also launched DEPP 2.0, its proprietary digital production system, with expanded capabilities in briefing templates and a new reporting engine. DEPP now manages over 4,500 briefs each month with users in 60 countries.
Based in New York, creative hotshop Johannes Leonardo continues to lead global brands by harnessing the power of creativity to play a liberating force in business challenges, wherever the solution may lie. Its recent work for Google, DemoSlam, a platform developed to transform the standard tech demo into a crowd-sourced expression of creativity and imagination shows how it works, not as a strictly digital agency, but a creative community inspired by an increasingly digital universe. In 2010, it continued to build a venerable roster with global assignments on brands such as Google, Coca-Cola, Chanel and AB Inbev. It was recognised by Advertising Age and Creativity as an ‘Agency to Watch’ for 2011.
iconmobile had continued success in 2010 with growth in client demand in the US and Europe, particularly for mobile solutions in the automotive, finance, pharmaceutical and packaged goods sectors, where clients are looking for more strategic implementations of mobile within their business. Microsoft continued as a major client, using iconmobile technology in 33 markets. Carrier relationships with Telefonica and France Telecom, now in the seventh year, have evolved as they navigate new areas such as financial services. Handset manufacturers such as Samsung are working on creating the devices of the future using iconmobile’s strong focus on design and technology. An area where iconmobile sees tremendous innovation is in the automotive sector, where the in-car team is working on new navigation systems, dashboards, entertainment systems and ways to use the mobile device to bring new services into the automobile. Shared clients with other WPP companies include Colgate-Palmolive, Land Rover, Microsoft and X-Box, will develop further.
In 2010, the Syzygy Group paved the way for further growth: with prestigious pitch wins including L’Oreal and the European AVIS social program, the formation of Mobile and Strategic Planning groups across all offices, the opening of Hi-ReS! New York and the integration of the Polish digital studio Ars Thanea. Syzygy is looking forward to a promising and exciting 2011.
Acquisitions and investments
We strengthened our agency group through the acquisition of Blue State Digital in December 2010. Blue State Digital is an online activation agency, most famous for its work on President Obama’s election campaign. We also continued our strategy of making investments in promising new technology companies that can bring unique capabilities to our agencies and clients through investments in eCommera, an ecommerce technology platform, Ace Metrix, a provider of real-time television advertising analytics, and Buddy Media, the leading Facebook page management platform. Finally, we backed True Worldwide, a London-based hybrid agency, and Fabric Worldwide which is building a technology platform which will allow clients from across the Group to benefit from increased efficiency and effectiveness in their digital marketing activities.
The opportunities offered by digital marketing will accelerate over the next few years. At the same time, the marketing landscape will fragment further and new channels will further complicate the task faced by our clients to reach their consumers. Our task is to make this simpler for our clients. Our key priorities over the coming year are strengthening our mobile capabilities for clients, increasingly helping our clients understand the opportunities and perils of social media, investing in greater ecommerce capabilities as well as focusing even more on data, technology and analytics each of which will become increasingly important. Our people are passionate about digital marketing and the innovation and pace of change in this industry. It is this passion, as well as their hard work, that has allowed our success to date and will position us well in the future.