Report by Irwin Gotlieb (below)Chairman

Report by Irwin Gotlieb

GroupM enjoyed an especially prosperous 2011. By the end of the year, our company scored a 13% increase in overall global billings compared to the previous year, according to RECMA, the independent organization that measures media agency sector operations. At the same time, with $82.2 billion in worldwide billings (RECMA) we remained the undisputed market leader among all global media agency networks with a 29% share of total measured volume.

As both a parent company and collaborator, GroupM’s primary goal remains constant: we provide maximum support for each of our operating companies – Maxus, MEC, MediaCom and Mindshare. We assist them in their efforts to provide a wide range of products and services to their clients, such as trading, content creation, digital communications, new business, finance, proprietary tool development and other critical capabilities.

Throughout 2011 our agencies scored important new business wins around the globe and also benefited from varying degrees of organic growth from existing clients. The account wins, along with industry awards, are outlined in the individual agency accounts on the following pages of this report. I’m particularly pleased to note that Maxus truly came into its own this year as our fourth international agency network. Since 2009, the agency more than doubled its billings from under $3 billion to upwards of $6.5 billion. In North America, the agency’s billings were roughly $700 million at the end of 2010 and edged toward $2 billion by the end of 2011, according to RECMA, which named Maxus the fastest-growing agency network in the world in both 2010 and 2011.

... several key issues placed us at the forefront of industry-shaping developments and led us to be named Media Agency Holding Company of the Year

GroupM also has always placed a priority on meeting tough challenges and developing new initiatives to keep our company at the forefront of the media services business while maintaining our global reputation as a pioneering influence throughout our industry. This was especially true in 2011 when several key issues placed us at the forefront of industry-shaping developments and led us to be named Media Agency Holding Company of the Year by both MEDIA and OMMA magazines. One of those issues was online privacy. 

In June, GroupM announced the development of new guidelines for safeguarding the privacy of consumers using mobile devices in a pioneering effort to introduce a high level of privacy standards to mobile communications. The guidelines were designed to limit the amount of data collected and passed from mobile devices that can be used in marketing campaigns in order to protect consumers from the unwanted collection and distribution of their personal information.

In its article announcing our award, MEDIA said: “Over the past two years, the firm is credited with doing more than any other advertising company to advance the cause of the industry’s self-regulatory position on privacy.”

In other awards, GroupM also topped the annual Gunn Report’s Holding Company of the Year tables in 2011 with 513 points and, at the Cannes Festival, Mindshare was awarded for its creativity by winning more awards in more categories than any other media agency, including three Gold Lions.

Another area in which we were viewed as leading the industry was in our efforts to protect the copyright-protected intellectual property of all content-producing companies. GroupM developed and adopted a pioneering new digital media trading policy designed to prevent its clients’ ads from appearing on websites that distribute illegally-obtained content. The policy includes anti-piracy language for insertion orders that prohibits vendors from placing GroupM clients’ advertising on sites that support piracy or contain any illegally distributed content. In conjunction with the new policy, GroupM identified a list of more than 2,000 US-based websites that were identified as containing or supporting pirated content.

In 2011, GroupM... emerged as an industry thought leader on the major issues challenging media agencies globally

As always, developing new technology also played a key role for us in 2011. As part of that plan, we launched a new company called Xaxis, a global audience buying company that combines all of WPP’s demand-side data and technology resources and the trading leverage of the GroupM agencies into a single comprehensive resource that allows advertisers to target specific audiences directly, independent of website, app or media platform. With a presence in 13 markets globally, Xaxis has served hundreds of billions of impressions for over 600 advertisers since its launch.

In other areas, GroupM continues to be a leading prognosticator of worldwide advertising spending in both traditional and digital media, issuing several This Year, Next Year forecast reports throughout 2011. We also published Interaction 2011, our fifth annual point of view on the state and future of the digital media marketplace with an analysis of what it means for the world’s largest advertisers.

In 2011, GroupM not only emerged as an industry thought leader on the major issues challenging media agencies globally, but each of our agencies also experienced continued growth in both billings and market leadership in a majority of locales worldwide. At the same time, we remained committed to our long-standing and ever-present goal of serving as a catalyst in advancing the media landscape for the benefit of our stakeholders and our clients. We continue to act aggressively to pursue any and all opportunities and initiatives that bring substantial competitive advantage to our agencies’ clients.

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