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CEO Clark steps down at $100bn media giant GroupM

Who wants to be CEO of the world’s biggest media buying Company?

Unknown-111Kelly Clark (left), CEO of WPP’s GroupM which includes Maxus, MEC, MediaCom and Mindshare and bills over $100bn, is stepping down to spend more time with his family (which may actually be true as running a media agency is pretty exhausting these days), creating an interesting job opportunity for one indefatigable person – maybe more than one.

This leaves UK media veteran Dominic Proctor (once media director of JWT) in charge as global president.

GroupM is the biggest contributor to WPP revenue and profits so the job is an important one. But with nearly $30bn of global media accounts up for review and all sorts of other pressures from clients – including the investigation into media rebates announced recently by America’s Association of National Advertisers – it’s a challenging post, to put it mildly.

Clark says: “There may be a single CEO, there may be multiple management roles that are announced as a result of my transition. We’re looking at how we need to set ourselves up for success over the next five years.” Clark will remain a consultant.

Also important in the WPP media mix is Xaxis, its global programmatic buying company run by Brian Lesser. Among other things, Xaxis buys great chunks of digital media inventory at undisclosed prices and sells it on to clients, thereby trading on its own account. This is highly profitable but contentious with some advertisers.

It will be interesting to see if whatever new structure WPP comes up with for GroupM involves a closer link with Xaxis or a more formal separation. There’s no doubt that WPP sees programmatic as key to its media revenues when clients are grinding down fees and some of its rivals are taking on business at what WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell calls ‘inane’ guaranteed prices.

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