NEWS: Sorrell backs value of new media

Creative departments need to wise up to new media if agencies are to compete effectively in the digital age, Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of WPP, warned last Thursday.

Creative departments need to wise up to new media if agencies are to

compete effectively in the digital age, Martin Sorrell, the chief

executive of WPP, warned last Thursday.



Advertising will be the financial cornerstone of new media, such as the

Internet, CD-Rom and interactive TV, Sorrell predicted, but he added:

‘The biggest problem in advertising agencies at the moment is that all

the exciting new-media initiatives are coming from the media

departments. The critical thing is the growth and development of an

appreciation of new media in the creative department.’



Sorrell cited projects such as the award-winning Guinness screensaver,

from WPP’s own Ogilvy and Mather, as an example of media department-led

initiatives.



Despite the lack of enthusiasm from agency creatives, Sorrell foresaw a

crucial role for advertising in new media, pointing out that they were

already beginning to ape traditional media in their reliance on

advertisers. Where before, new-media providers had focused on

subscription revenues and transaction taxes as the items that would make

their businesses viable, he claimed the burning issue today was how to

develop ad revenues. ‘As usual, advertising will subsidise these new

media in a way that will be of critical importance,’ he said.



Speaking at the Digital Future conference organised by the Network,

Wired and the interactive specialist, Syzygy, at the Royal College of

Art, Sorrell confirmed that WPP would be making five investments in

separate new-media operations in the next year (Campaign, 15 March). WPP

has a 5 per cent stake in Wired’s online magazine, Hot-Wired, which it

acquired for an undisclosed sum last year.



Also speaking at the conference, Chris Lloyd, the innovation and

technology editor of the Sunday Times, said that News International’s

aim was to launch multimedia newspapers. Lloyd said it would soon be

possible to click on a newspaper picture and see a video clip from the

incident depicted.



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