TOP 300 AGENCIES: The top media specialists

The trend toward consolidation in the media industry continued, with WPP setting up its Group M buying unit. Publicis Groupe remains the largest-billing holding company, ahead of Omnicom and Interpublic.

Sceptics of the "big is beautiful" media agency model grumble that the UK market is too sophisticated for bulk media buying to make the same impact as it does in other markets, especially in non-broadcast media.

In the US, and to a lesser extent in Germany, there is a clearly defined "upfront" television airtime buying season, so it makes more sense for agencies to beef up resources to put themselves in a stronger bargaining position with the TV stations.

But there is increasingly a much higher premium on size for the media agencies in the UK too, particularly after the merger of the ITV sales houses of Granada and Carlton.

Agency bosses will argue that buying muscle is not just about getting bigger discounts from media owners but creating more and better added-value opportunities for their clients. Whether you believe them or not, the fact is the relentless consolidation of media agency groups is sure to continue.

The biggest seven holding companies' combined billings total $5.8 billion - that's 70 per cent of UK media spend. Despite the emerging clan of mostly planning shops such as Naked and Michaelides & Bednash, which are pinching sizeable pieces of business from the bigger media agencies, the ongoing search by clients for scale and cost-savings means that the big are set to get even bigger.

The face of the UK's media industry will change further as the supergroups look to pool their buying clout into an ever-decreasing number of trading points. In keeping with this trend, Campaign has compiled its own table this year, using Nielsen Media Research data, to reflect the combined buying power the global advertising industry's supergroups have at their disposal.

Publicis Groupe wields by far the most potential buying clout in the market, weighing in with billings of £1,433.6 million for the end of last year with a drop of 4 per cent on 2002. While its Starcom MediaVest and Starcom Motive agencies merged to create Starcom UK Group last year, Publicis, whose other key media operation is ZenithOptimedia, still lacks a central buying point to exploit its negotiation muscle fully. An equivalent to Interpublic's Magna Global UK, the first of the breed of combined buying operations, would reinforce Publicis' lead in the market.

The financially embattled Interpublic Group recorded a welcome 11 per cent growth in billings in 2003, boosted no doubt by Initiative's unrivalled new-business performance. The agency topped Campaign's business performance league at the end of last year.

Magna Global UK seems to have clicked into gear too. It's a little too early to say, but the appointment of Roy Jeans as the managing director of Magna Global UK in July last year may also have aided IPG's billings growth. Jeans, formerly the managing director of Initiative, was hired with a brief to strengthen the group's trading across print and outdoor, as well as television.

The other two £900 million-plus groups, Omnicom and WPP, both showed respectable growth in 2003, up 6.2 per cent and 7.8 per cent respectively.

WPP's launch of Group M in 2003 won't have affected Campaign's table as the unit only became fully operational in February this year. Nick Theakstone, MindShare's investment director, was promoted to the managing director of the new unit. Group M now claims to be the UK's biggest single media buying point with billings of more than £900 million.

Aegis Group was the year's biggest faller, billings down 4.2 per cent from £832.8 million to £797.4 million. Carat had a disappointing year, with the Abbey and Cadbury's accounts leaving the agency. Carat and its sister agency Vizeum have bought together for many years now, but the creation of the central buying unit Aegis Media in June 2003, bringing its smaller siblings Feather Brooksbank and Posterscope into the fold, should boost the group's punch in negotiations in 2004.

Meanwhile, Grey Global Group continues to defy the odds. Its lone media agency, MediaCom, piled on the billings, up 10.3 per cent to £673.6 million with more wins in 2003 including Cancer Research UK and Britannia Music.

It's too early for MediaCom's Boots win to affect the tables. Nor will Havas' Media Planning Group's loss of France Telecom's Orange account in October - a potentially devastating loss for the agency - have any effect on its numbers until next year.

TOP HOLDING COMPANIES

Rank Rank Agency Billings Billings Year on

2003 2002 year ending year ending year

Dec 03 Dec 02 % change

(pounds m) (pounds m)

1 Publicis Groupe 1,433.6 1,493.0 -4.0

2 Omnicom Group 996.2 938.1 6.2

3 Interpublic Group 907.5 816.3 11.2

4 WPP Group 901.0 835.8 7.8

5 Aegis Group 797.4 832.8 -4.2

6 Grey Global Group 673.6 610.8 10.3

7 Havas Advertising 137.0 118.2 15.9

Rank Holding company Key UK Central

2003 media assets buying unit

1 Publicis Groupe Starcom UK Group, Zenith-

Optimedia, Media Vision,

Zed Media -

2 Omnicom Group OMD UK Group, PHD Group,

WWAV Rapp Collins Media -

3 Interpublic Group Initiative London, Universal

McCann UK Group,

BrandConnection Magna Global UK

4 WPP Group MindShare, Mediaedge:cia,

BJK&E Media, Media Insight Group M

5 Aegis Group Carat, Vizeum, Feather

Brooksbank, Posterscope Aegis Media

6 Grey Global Group MediaCom -

7 Havas Advertising media Planning Group -

Note: This table was compiled by Campaign. Nielsen Media Research is not

responsible for its accuracy.

TOP 50 MEDIA BRANDS - Ranked by Nielsen Media Research Billings

Rank Rank Agency Billings Billings Year on

2003 2002 year ending year ending year

Dec 03 Dec 02 % change

(pounds m) (pounds m)

1 3 MediaCom 610.93 550.06 11.06

2 1 ZenithOptimedia 605.90 697.42 -13.12

3 4 MindShare 556.74 480.77 15.80

4 2 Carat 519.17 563.46 -7.86

5 5 OMD UK 427.31 400.46 6.70

6 7 Initiative London 415.04 365.79 13.46

7 6 Starcom Motive 388.62 372.36 4.36

8 8 Universal McCann London 325.10 287.31 13.15

9 9 PHD 262.98 276.08 -4.74

10 10 Starcom MediaVest 260.11 272.25 -4.46

11 12 Manning Gottlieb OMD 254.63 199.16 27.84

12 13 Vizeum UK 205.91 186.18 10.59

13 11 Mediaedge:cia 198.55 200.32 -0.88

14 14 Walker Media 173.29 143.41 20.83

15 15 Media Planning Group 136.96 118.22 15.85

16 20 MediaVest (Manchester) 104.85 67.77 54.70

17 16 BrandConnection 90.46 86.18 4.97

18 18 The Allmond Partnership 76.95 73.63 4.51

19 17 Feather Brooksbank 61.95 76.27 -18.77

20 22 Universal McCann Manchester 61.50 60.78 1.17

21 23 BJK&E Media 59.11 60.26 -1.91

22 19 Brilliant Media 57.17 71.27 -19.78

23 21 Mediaedge:cia Manchester 52.89 61.78 -14.38

24 25 John Ayling & Associates 50.10 52.25 -4.12

25 28 MediaCom North 40.09 36.77 9.03

26 31 Media Campaign Services 39.45 33.57 17.51

27 27 All Response Media 38.61 39.90 -3.23

28 30 BLM Media 36.53 34.32 6.44

29 35 Media Vision Manchester 34.52 25.83 33.63

30 32 Media Insight 33.75 32.41 4.11

31 29 WWAV Rapp Collins Media 29.74 34.49 -13.75

32 26 ZED Media 25.34 44.56 -43.11

33 34 Total Media 24.95 26.92 -7.31

34 43 Matters Media 24.19 17.73 36.39

35 39 Equinox Communications 23.77 20.96 13.39

36 37 Attinger Jack Advertising 22.79 23.98 -4.93

37 36 MediaCom Scotland 22.58 24.00 -5.87

38 42 AMS Media 21.66 19.36 11.87

39 33 PHD Compass 21.51 27.87 -22.80

40 38 Bygraves Bushell Valladares

Sheldon 20.23 22.05 -8.26

41 51 Wallace Barnaby Advertising 19.09 13.99 36.42

42 41 Target NMI 18.05 20.01 -9.77

43 49 Bray Leino 16.77 14.51 15.56

44 112 Outdoor Connection 15.80 2.98 429.53

45 47 Universal McCann Birmingham 15.20 16.04 -5.19

46 81 Rathbone Media 14.47 5.86 146.76

47 52 Lavery Rowe Advertising 13.91 12.97 7.16

48 40 UK Advertising & Marketing

Services 13.79 20.46 -32.61

49 48 Robson Brown 13.47 14.95 -9.90

50 46 Mediability 13.25 16.43 -19.34

NOTE: Rankings and billings have in some cases been effected by merger

activity. Hence some 2002 rankings and billings differ from those listed

in last year's Top 300 Agencies report.

Starcom MediaVest and Starcom Motive have now merged to form Starcom UK

Group but were operating as independent agencies up to August 2003,

hence their inclusion in the table.

Topics

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