They do say that when WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell (below) hangs up his boots (or is hauled off to the ‘glue factory’ as he prefers to put it, he’s clearly pissed off at all this talk of retirement) no one person would be able to get their head around all WPP’s diverse companies and activities.
Forget WPP, look at Xaxis which WPP describes as “the world’s largest programmatic media platform that directs more than US$770 million of audience-targeted media buys across 40 markets.”
Now Xaxis has bought New York-based Action Exchange (alias ActionX), a US mobile e-commerce business.
And this is what ActionX, a veritable minnow by New York standards with just 25 people, does: ActionX’s proprietary mobile-first data, audience targeting and dynamic creative advertising technology allows its clients to engage customers on multiple screens on the path to the point of purchase.
So it’s not an advertising company or even, really, a media company. Its an e-commerce company, or rather an e-commerce punt that may have a better mousetrap. A bit like those drug company pioneers that the big boys like Merck and GSK snap up when it looks like one of their products might make it to market. Intriguingly ActionX was backed by US mobile giant Verizon.
WPP is quite open about its ambitions to expand into e-commerce. As it accumulates yet more data it surely has the means to do the same things as Amazon or Alibaba.
Maybe Maurice Levy feels the same way about $3.7nm acquisition Sapient.
So another interesting Sorrell manoeuvre. But advertising and media as we know (knew?) it, it isn’t.