Report by Mark Read
Chief executive officer
WPP Digital had strong performance in 2013, both financially and strategically, supporting the Group’s ever-greater focus on the application of technology and the growth in its digital business to 35% of its revenues today. Our key priority areas within digital remain the same: mobile, e-commerce, content, data and analytics, and social, and we have made progress in each of them.
24/7 Media, the marketing technology company, focused on providing new technology services to its fast-growing sister company, Xaxis , a company that was started by 24/7 Media in 2011. A cutting-edge Trading Data Management Platform was implemented, providing a competitive buying advantage for Xaxis. The Microsoft Advertising Exchange partnership, formed in 2012, delivered strong growth to 24/7’s media business and, by year end, 24/7 had integrated over 60 technology companies into its technology stack. In December 2013, 24/7 and Xaxis announced that they would merge and become one again under the Xaxis name, establishing the world’s largest programmatic media and technology platform, and confirming our original premise, when 24/7 Media was acquired, that the application of technology to the buy-side of digital media could bring substantial strategic and financial benefits to WPP and its clients.
Our key priority areas within digital remain the same: mobile, e-commerce, content, data and analytics, and social, and we have made progress in each of them
For POSSIBLE, 2013 marked a year of worldwide collaboration and momentum as this global digital agency built its culture and vision of delivering creative that works. Its growing office network supported its ability to win business at a global level with brands such as Gillette and Microsoft and, most significantly, with Shell to become its Global Digital Agency of Record. POSSIBLE continued to invest in developing innovative services, including its Emerging Platforms Practice. This practice will focus on Amazon and LinkedIn and help clients navigate the complex paths of influence and purchase on the web. In December 2013, confirming this momentum, Advertising Age named POSSIBLE as one of its top 10 agencies to watch in 2014.
Digital advertising and marketing agency Rockfish also continued its growth streak in 2013, opening new offices in Atlanta, Portland and Chicago. Through delivery of innovative work that combines strategic insight with technology expertise, Rockfish doubled its client roster. It received nearly 70 industry awards for its work, including OMMA Agency of the Year for Design 2013. It changed the game for Walmart’s suppliers and store managers by creating the technology behind Walmart’s SPARC app, which gives suppliers real-time access to in-store inventory information. Rockfish also continued to innovate, launching Media Multiplyer, a proprietary rich-media technology for managing and delivering digital advertising content in real-time.
Blue State Digital, our digital strategy agency, strengthened its leadership position as one of the world’s best agencies for cultivating and mobilizing communities of supporters. Eighty new people joined; six billion targeted emails were sent; $124 million was raised for causes and campaigns; 38 web platforms launched (including Connect Ford, Michelle Bridges, Malaria No More, Rockefeller Foundation: 100 Resilient Cities, People for Bikes); its technology arm launched Quick Donate through which causes raised $120 million by year end, increasingly using mobile phones; and millions of actions were taken on behalf of clients including Google, Ford, NAACP, Freedom to Marry, The Body Shop and the Coalition to Protect America’s Health Care. BSD received multiple awards, including two Webbys for its Human Rights Campaign website and Born This Way Foundation website.
Johannes Leonardo, based in New York, develops impactful campaigns around the world via a creatively-ambitious culture of 51 people from 14 countries. This digitally-fluent advertising agency combines “big ideas” with the ability to channel them via all earned and paid media. It achieves big brand successes for clients such as Coca-Cola and Google and Mondelēz.
Marketing implementation agency, Hogarth, continued to grow strongly in both revenue and profit, ending the year with 30 offices in 13 countries. New business wins and new assignments from existing clients also contributed. The performance has been underpinned by strong interest amongst multinational clients in Hogarth’s innovative technology and production systems that deliver substantial savings in marketing implementation. In particular, there has been growing interest in doing digital work more efficiently resulting in major wins in large-scale, offshore digital production.
Acceleration, a marketing technology consulting and systems integration company, brought its expertise to a number of WPP clients. It enjoyed very good growth in 2013 with major wins including Royal Caribbean, SABMiller and Vodacom (Vodafone), opening an office in Miami to support increasing demand from Latin America.
In January 2013, WPP Digital acquired Salmon, an omni-channel commerce agency and Europe’s largest Websphere services business with over £3 billion in sales going through its sites annually. Salmon won major assignments from seven new clients and was recognized with a number of awards, including an IBM Beacon Award for Outstanding Smarter Commerce Solution, the PayPal Etail Awards for Best Large Multichannel Retailer (Argos) and Best Customer Experience (Morrisons Cellar). It took sixth place in the Econsultancy/NMA UK Top 100 Digital Agencies 2013, and was No.2 in the Design and Build category.
We are only part way through the digital transformation that is changing our world and many analysts expect the next few years to be even more innovative
Some two years ago The Data Alliance was established to enable coordination of the Group’s approach to data and greater connection of data across the Group, as well as external data partnerships. It made great progress in 2013, signing new data partnerships with Twitter and FourthWall, consulting to a number of WPP’s largest clients and helping the Group to connect its various data sets to yield greater insights and better actions for clients.
As we look back on 2013, we can see excellent progress in delivering on our overall strategy and strategic priorities. In addition to the acquisition of Salmon and the organic developments above, we took an investment in Fullscreen, a leading online video company and one of the top content producers on YouTube, by some way the web’s largest video destination, and a 25% investment in Mutual Mobile, a mobile product development agency, based in Austin, Texas.
Looking forward into 2014 and beyond, the opportunities for WPP Digital companies remain substantial. We are only part way through the digital transformation that is changing our world and many analysts expect the next few years to be even more innovative as an explosion of new digital devices support much greater investment in digital technologies, not just in marketing but built into the products and services offered by companies. Our job is to help our clients, both the ‘traditional’ and the ‘new’ ones, to manage the opportunities and threats inherent in this transition. To do this, we need great people and we are lucky that we have many of them and that they did a fantastic job in 2013 – for which we thank them.
David J. Moore
Chairman, Xaxis and president, WPP Digital
Chief executive officer, POSSIBLE
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