Facebook to be WPP's second biggest media relationship by 2017, predicts Sorrell

Facebook will be WPP's second biggest media relationship by 2017, Sir Martin Sorrell predicted at a panel session in Cannes Lions festival last week.

He was speaking at a debate held by the The Wall Street Journal on News UK’s boat and in conjunction with The & Partnership.

Sorrell said that last year, on behalf of its clients, WPP spent $4bn with Google and $1bn with Facebook.

Sorrell, who met with Google during the week, said this spend would increase to around $5bn-$5.5bn this year.

But WPP’s predicted spend on Facebook had rocketed by 68% to $1.7bn this year.

If Facebook continued on its current trajectory, Sorrell said: "I would guess that Facebook will be our second biggest media relationship after Google, probably by 2017."

Last year, WPP's second biggest media relationship was News Corp/Fox, with whom it spent around $2.5bn.

The debate also covered the issue of measurement of digital campaigns – and how it was still inadequate.

PepsiCo’s president, global beverage group, Brad Jakeman, said the methodology of measurement has not changed in the past 50 years. He said he recently looked at one of the old brand equity questionnaires that Pepsi used to use for shits and giggles".

Jakeman said: "I was terrified. It might as well have been Survey Monkey. I thought 'wow – we made billion dollar decisions based on this data, which is antiquated at best', Metrics have not kept pace with the changes."

Advertising not a direct sales technique

Jakeman argued for a rethink about the method for evaluating the effectiveness of advertising.

"I don’t believe that the role of advertising is to sell things, it’s to make things more saleable. 

He said it was incredibly hard to demonstrate how an ad directly led to product being bought: "Consumers don’t see a car ad and then jump into a dealership. It’s a multi-faceted decision."

The idea that it does is harmful, he believes. "It’s incredibly naïve, it takes us to content that is incredibly left brain – like direct response ads."

Instead brands should focus on creating content that consumers love. This, he said, is similar to the early days of advertising, when brands were not producing 30 second TV ads, but were sponsoring soap operas.

He believes that there will be a shift from brands buying space from media and tech platforms, to selling content to them – one reason why Pepsi has set up its own content studio. 

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