Now MediaMonk Sorrell sets his sights on media agency

Anyone out there have a digital media buying business – with a base in data analytics (obviously)? If so it could be the next target for S4 Capital’s Sir Martin Sorrell because that’s what he says he wants to add to €300m digital production company MediaMonks.

It would be characteristic of Sorrell to begin his new empire with a creative business and then move into media. That’s what he did at WPP, building the world’s biggest media planning and buying business in GroupM. Why? Back in the day one Willie Sutton was asked by a reporter why he robbed banks. “Because that’s where the money is,” said Willie.

And the big money in marketing communications is in media although media agencies have taken a prolonged battering since the US Association of National Advertisers produced its damning report on undisclosed media rebates in 2016. Clients have tightened up contracts and said the rebates belong to them, not the media agency.

Media agencies have also suffered from money flooding directly into Google and Facebook, leaving them without an obvious role in the fastest-growing part of the ad market. But Facebook and Google are under pressure with many doubting their numbers and delivery and other ad exchanges are growing in scale, most notably AppNexus under its new owner AT&T and Verizon-owned Oath. Where there’s a marketplace there’s usually a media agency.

Sorrell knows well enough what advertisers want even if, at WPP, he may have been reluctant to provide it. Today’s big media agencies house thousands of people and, as such, they’re hardly the nimble operations that are currently flavour of the month in always-on adland.

He’ll see an opportunity for a new-style digital media agency (which is what they all are now, really) to make an impact. The new ‘senior monk’ no doubt has a list of them already.

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Sir Martin Sorrell WPP

About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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