WPP goes digital shopping again with Designercity in Hong Kong and UK TV business SecondSync

WPP is still the biggest western marcoms company operating in the China region, even after the PubliCom merger, and boss Sir Martin Sorrell (left) is still shopping busily for assets.

It has just acquired a majority stake in yet another digital agency, Designercity, formed in the UK in 1995 but relocated to Hong Kong in 2000.

Designercity had unaudited revenues of HKD 43.7m for the year ended as at 31 March 2013, with total assets at the same date of HKD 18.7m. It employs 108 people and clients include Hong Kong Tourism Board, Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Arsenal FC, Dairy Farm Group, The Peninsula, Swire Hotels and Hong Kong International Airport.

It will now operate under JWT’s XM Asia banner.

Sorrell has also been spending closer to home, buying a minority stake in Bristol-based SecondSync, which it describes as an “early-stage social TV business” which “focusses on analysis of social media conversations around TV broadcasts to provide audience insights that can be used for media planning and audience research and commissioning.”

The stake will be held by WPP’s research division Kantar.

SecondSync was launched in 2012 by co-founders, Andrew Littledale, Ted Littledale, Lee Carre and Dan Fairs. Clients include Channel 4, ITV, BBC, Shine and MediaCom.

WPP has a long history of investing in new media companies, but has tended to trade in and out, often at a substantial profit.

But with the battleground now (we read) technology in (we also read) the media space it’s likely that Sorrell and co will group these and other such interests in a way that makes its technology and emerging markets assets easier to understand

All the missives we receive from WPP these days helpfully remind us that:

WPP’s digital revenues were well over US$5 billion in 2012 and represented 33% of total Group revenues of US$16.5 billion. The Group is targeting 35-40% of revenues for digital in the next five years.

What we don’t know is how much of this is accounted for by ‘pure’ digital plays and how much from the digital aspects of conventional advertising and media activities.

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