The WPP IT department doesn’t answer the phone. Instead it offers a voicemail with an invitation to leave a message, an email address and says that because of the high volume of enquiries it receives it is unable to answer all calls. In an organisation of 100 companies employing 110,000 staff in 106 countries each of which runs its own IT systems, perhaps this is not surprising.
Technology in the advertising space centres around wan acceleration to push multi megabyte files of glossy adverts around networks. However for WPP group turning out glossy pictures is the least of its worries.
The firm is warning of a global advertising slowdown in mature markets, for which the slack is not being taken up in emerging markets such as India and China, which will suffer a post - Olympics lag. Combine this with the disruptive technology of social networking and you have a worried company.
In its annual report WPP said: “The new technologies have demonstrated the power of editorial publicity through fast-growing new applications of new technology such as MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Wikipedia, along with the difficulties of making money on social networking sites through advertising, as even Facebook found out with Beacon.” It said: “In 2007, our broadly-defined internet-related revenue was almost $2.8 billion or 23 per cent of our worldwide reported revenue and our narrowly-defined internet-related revenue was almost $1.5 billion or 12 per cent of our worldwide reported revenue.”
Reports said that WPP group spent $900 million of its clients’ cash on Google ads last year. Speaking at an industry gathering in Cannes, France in June 2008 Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP group was reported as saying that there were worries that firms such as Google were moving into the space traditionally occupied by the agencies. Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft played down such fears.