Irwin Gotlieb, Chief executive officer

Report by Irwin Gotlieb (above)
Chief executive officer

GroupM serves as the parent company to media agencies Maxus, MediaCom, Mediaedge:cia and Mindshare. It is the world’s leading global media investment management company, according to RECMA, the independent organization that measures media agency sector operations. In 2008, the organization reported that GroupM held a 31.4% share of the total measured volume of our peer group, the global media networks.

Each of our agencies has extensive global capabilities and is a market leader in virtually every region in which they operate around the world. GroupM’s primary goal is to support each agency as both a parent company and a collaborator in activities including trading, content creation, digital communications, new business, finance, proprietary tool development and other critical capabilities.

By any standard, 2008 was an exceptional year for GroupM and its operating companies. Each agency scored impressive new business gains that are outlined in the individual reports that follow.

We also continued to increase the intelligent application of scale and place greater emphasis on our trading capabilities. In a key executive move, MediaCom’s worldwide chairman-CEO Alexander Schmidt-Vogel was named Global CEO of GroupM Trading, a new position. We now have world-class talent dedicated to our trading structures and functions, including marketplace analytics and best practice deployment.

Also in 2008, in order to effectively leverage local television and radio implementation with the intelligent application of scale, we consolidated the local broadcast units at three of our agencies into two separate teams called Team Matrix and Team Motion that now operate under the GroupM banner. The move has allowed us to drive better pricing, terms and added value opportunities for our clients while also improving research, accountability, electronic data interchange (EDI) initiatives, and business practices in emerging platforms.

GroupM also distinguished itself once again as an industry leader in 2008 by being the first agency group to negotiate the elimination of the controversial commercial integration fees that had been imposed by the major networks since the dawn of television. That initiative followed our 2007 success in the adoption of commercial ratings plus three-day DVR viewing (known as C3) as the new negotiating currency for all upfront network and cable television sales deals, a landmark breakthrough that was subsequently adopted by the entire broadcast and cable TV industries.

In noteworthy executive moves, Alexander Schmidt-Vogel was succeeded as MediaCom worldwide chairman-CEO by GroupM UK CEO Stephen Allan. Prior to his GroupM UK role, Stephen led MediaCom’s UK operations and served on the global board; this extensive legacy has assured a seamless transition. We also named Kelly Clark, formerly CEO of GroupM EMEA, as the first global chief executive of Maxus, a move that illustrated our focus on growth and our commitment to strengthening Maxus as our fourth network. Kelly wasted no time in making his mark – within only a few months of his appointment the agency won two new accounts and established a London office. Kelly’s GroupM EMEA role was seamlessly filled by his deputy, Dominic Grainger.

Training our staff has always been a paramount priority at GroupM, particularly in the arena of emerging media and technologies. To that end we introduced a powerful new tool known as MSpace, a custom-made, interactive digital learning system that offers a comprehensive, working knowledge of digital media and its practice within our agency. The program is extremely user-friendly and is web-based, so employees can work on it anywhere, anytime. MSpace comprises 10 modules, covering topics such as ad serving, analytics, search and digital strategy.

GroupM also continues to aggressively pursue and advance the investments we have made in the recent past in new technologies and systems, because we believe that market leadership requires us to persist in driving innovation and to play the role of industry shaper. We firmly believe it is our responsibility not only to explore but to lead the market in new directions and catalyze the development of innovative opportunities for our clients. These investments include our 2007 equity stake in Invidi Technologies Corporation.

open quoteMarket leadership requires us to persist in driving innovation and to play the role of industry shaper. We firmly believe it is our responsibility not only to explore but to lead the market in new directions and catalyze the development of innovative opportunities for our clientsclose quote

Invidi’s proprietary technology addresses commercials to individual TV set-top boxes, bringing the targeting precision and accountability of the internet to television. We are also working very closely with our WPP sister company 24/7 Real Media on data management and technology projects. Within the next few years, all media will be addressable, capable of requests for information (RFI) and message telescoping, census level measurable and even transaction capable. We are taking steps today to insure that GroupM and its agencies have clear leadership in this space and proactively shape the future.

As always, the more than 17,400 GroupM employees provided exceptional performance and value to their clients in 2008. The current economic climate is expected to present new and difficult challenges for many of our clients, as it relates to both short-term realities and long-term strategic imperatives. GroupM and our agencies have unique capabilities and significant competitive advantage in areas covering business science, trading, content solutions and technology, and we will continue to deploy these capabilities for the benefit of our clients and stakeholders.