Will we end up with the world’s big media accounts being handled by just two entities: WPP’s GroupM and Omnicom’s OMG?
Publicis Groupe, Interpublic (in the US), Dentsu/Aegis and others would violently disagree but that’s the way it seems to be going. Ad Age reports that Walmart, which announced it was leaving Publicis-owned Mediavest last year, was playing footsie with Minneapolis-based media shop Haworth Marketing and Media. Haworth is 49 per cent owned by WPP. Walmart media consutant Michael Francis has worked with Haworth before. Walmart says: “They are a great agency with unique capabilities that could be an interesting partner in the future.” Walmart is staying with Mediavest through 2016.
Which is potentially very nice for Haworth which has seen Walmart rival Target decamp to WPP’s media holding company GroupM. Target spends about $700m against Walmart’s $900m. So WPP, which has, arguably, come out on top in last year’s round of media reviews – or ‘Mediapalooza’ – could end up booking most of the media fees for two big rival US retailers.
At the same time OMG is busily assembling a team – some from WPP agency Grey it seems – to staff its third big network, as yet unnamed – formed to handle Procter & Gamble’s ginormous US media account, all $2.6bn of it. OPG, or whatever it’s called, will no doubt hunt for other business too.
Individual media agencies within GroupM – chiefly MediaCom, MEC, Mindshare and Maxus – are now account conflict shops to a degree. GroupM negotiates all the prices for big media deals and owns the data-based goodies that seem to be attracting these clients in the era of programmatic. Omnicom’s OMG is also busly centralising its media programmatic operations on GroupM lines, in stark contrast to Publicis Media which has sent its programmatic operators back to individual agencies, chiefly Starcom Mediavest and ZenithOptimedia. Even though these media agency brands are supposed to be being wound down in favour of something or other – maybe Publicis Media. No, I don’t understand it either.
So far the new concentration into WPP and Omnicom has been mainly a US trend although the two holding companies have long had an iron grip on the UK media market, with WPP in the lead. But with most big companies still headquartered in the US (which remains the biggest market for non-US companies too) it’s likely that the same pattern will be established, sooner or later, across the rest of the world.
Media is where the marcoms holding companies make most of their money these days. The increasing domination of WPP and Omnicom is a real poser for Publicis, IPG and Dentsu and smaller players like Havas.