Global advertising giant WPP is learning to understand and use technology, data, and content in the new business process, according to the company’s CEO Sir Martin Sorrell.
Discussing the group’s preliminary results for 2014, along with an outlook for the year ahead, Sorrell said that the company is focusing on embedding “data people” into its client and pitch teams and labelled this as a key point for the year ahead.
“We are increasingly bringing what we do in the media and data areas together,” said Sorrell.
Sorrell spent much of the meeting discussing the role of “big data” in marketing today, highlighting the success of its programmatic platform business Xaxis.
“We’re pleased and delighted at the success of Xaxis, especially in North America and the EMEA region. It’s growing rapidly in the APAC and LatAm regions too.
“Marketing is obviously becoming more data driven – clients need a simplified, better utilisation of data and help in managing and sorting their way through the explosion of data,” said Sorrell.
The British company, which owns the JWT and Ogilvy & Mather agencies, said that it has seen high demand in January following strong trading in North America and China, helping the group to meet its 2014 targets.
The group reported a 12% rise in 2014 pre-tax profits to £1.45bn, on revenues that rose 4.6% to £11.5bn – crediting the UK and North America for its performance.
But Sorrell also warned of looming challenges for the year ahead, including troubles in the Middle East, a slowdown for China and Russia, and the UK’s impending general election.
“The increasingly uncertain result of the UK’s General Election may crimp the strong UK economic recovery, which equals or even exceeds the US strength, albeit relatively.
“If the Conservative [Party] win outright or lead a coalition or even form a minority government, there will be a Referendum on the EU in 2016 or 2017, which will cause significant uncertainty.
“If Labour wins outright or leads a coalition, or forms a minority government, it will win partly on a ‘bashing business’ manifesto, which may resonate at the ballot box,” said Sorrell.