Sir Martin: Tough Times, Goin’ Digital

Economists may think the worst is behind us in this recession, but media people continue to be less optimistic. Earlier this week, Media Life published results of a reader poll finding that most respondents believe that recovery in the media economy won’t begin until second quarter 2010 or later. Yesterday the head of the world’s biggest advertising group, Sir Martin Sorrell, seemed to agree that recovery is still a ways off. Discussing WPP’s first-half results, which saw profits fall by nearly half, Sorrell told reporters that despite some big-ticket events in 2010, including the World Cup and Winter Olympics, he felt “cautious” about the possibility of recovery. Sorrell said that the shape of the recovery will be “an L shape, and an italicized L,” according to the Times of London.
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In a first half earnings statement released this morning, WPP Group announced that digital and direct marketing-related services now comprise 25% of its body. WPP Group owns labels like 24/7 Real Media, Mediaedge:cia, MediaCom, Mindshare, GroupM and Outrider. Digital and direct garnered $1.7 billion in revenues in the first half of ’09, with a projected annual run rate of nearly $3.5 billion total. But it is digital media and advertising that appear to be dominating the segment. Overall, first half revenues fell 2.9% to $6.4 billion in the first half on a reported basis, MediaPost reports. Like-for-like, however, total revenues slid 8.3% against the first half of 2008. According to WPP, traditional advertising and “media investment management” have been the hardest-hit amidst the economic downturn.
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