MediaCom tops table of UK media agencies

MediaCom has consolidated its position as the number-one UK media agency with its London agency posting a 5.5 per cent growth in billings for the year to the end of July.

According to the latest figures from Nielsen Media Research, MediaCom held its lead over ZenithOptimedia after overtaking its rival at the end of 2003.

MediaCom's billings growth matched the total growth among the top 30 agencies, also at 5 per cent. Total spend through the top 30 buying points was up by £306 million to £6.4 billion.

ZenithOptimedia, which balanced account losses such as KFC by winning O2, suffered an overall drop in its billings, while MediaCom puts its growth down to a strong new-business performance and a good client-retention record.

Stephen Allan, the chief executive of MediaCom, said: "Growth has come, of course, from new business with big wins, such as Boots and Churchill, starting to feed through. But we've also seen an upturn in organic spend with existing clients spending a bit more money."

MindShare leapt ahead of Carat to become the third-largest agency after winning accounts including Abbey and Argos.

The fastest-growing agency in the top ten was Initiative, which picked up the France Telecom account and additional business from General Motors towards the end of last year.

Manning Gottlieb OMD leapfrogged its sister agency PHD to enter the top ten at number ten. PHD's 15 per cent drop in billings came about as a result of losses including Weetabix and Homebase. Its buying operation is now consolidated with Manning Gott-lieb's as part of the OPera buying group.

Outside of the top ten, a group of independent agencies posted significant growth, suggesting there is life beyond the networks. Walker Media led this wave, recording a 22 per cent billings increase on the back of wins including KFC and healthy spending from clients such as Dixons.

Mediavest Manchester, 75 per cent of which is independently owned, grew by more than a quarter. Other independents including Brilliant Media, John Ayling & Associates and BLM Media also grew rapidly.

John Ayling, which was placed 21st, experienced a 25 per cent increase in its billings, which reached a total of £60.2 million.

BLM, the 25th-largest agency, rose two places based on a 32 per cent rise in its billings to £50.1 million.

However, independence was no guarantee of growth with The Allmond Partnership suffering billings declines following its loss of O2.

Feather Brooksbank's large growth came ahead of its recent loss of the multimillion-pound Scottish Executive account to MediaCom Scotland.

The direct agencies All Response Media and Zed Media, placed 26th and 29th, showed strong growth.

TOP 20 UK MEDIA AGENCY BILLINGS TO YEAR ENDING 31 JULY 2004

Rank Rank Agency Year to 31 July Year to 31 July Year-on-year

2004 2003 2004 (pounds m) 2003 (pounds m) change (%)

1 2 MediaCom 640 607 5.5

2 1 ZenithOptimedia 611 632 -3.3

3 4 MindShare 572 512 11.8

4 3 Carat 543 539 0.6

5 6 Initiative 488 399 22.2

6 5 OMD 460 431 6.7

7 7 Starcom Motive 377 387 -2.5

8 8 Universal McCann 339 317 7.1

9 9 Starcom Mediavest 275 266 3.4

10 11 Manning Gottlieb OMD 257 230 11.8

11 10 PHD 236 277 -14.6

12 12 Vizeum 213 210 1.4

13 14 Walker Media 188 154 22.0

14 13 Mediaedge:cia 184 181 1.6

15 16 Mediavest Manchester 110 88 25.7

16 15 Media Planning Group 109 127 -14.4

17 18 Brilliant Media 82 66 24.7

18 20 Feather Brooksbank 79 60 31.3

19 17 Brandconnection 77 80 -3.7

20 19 The Allmond Partnership 69 79 -12.6

Source: Nielsen Media Research.

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