Media agencies suffer as recession bites

LONDON - The advertising downturn has cut a swathe through the UK's media agencies, with all but two of the top ten suffering billings declines in 2009.

Billings: Nielsen table
Billings: Nielsen table

At the top, MediaCom lost its status as the UK's only "billion pound media agency" following a 10% drop, according to figures from The Nielsen Company.

However, the WPP-owned agency easily held on to the top spot after the second and third-placed OMD and Carat also posted declines, albeit less steep than others.

Starcom UK Group, which lost accounts including Fiat and Cadbury during 2008, was the hardest hit in the top ten but Mediaedge:cia increased its billings and joined its sister WPP media shops MediaCom and Mindshare in the top five.

Aegis Media's Vizeum was the other top-ten agency to increase billings, after a strong new-business year in 2008.

IPG no longer has a top-ten UK media agency after Initiative joined Universal McCann outside the top ranks after a 31.9% billings slump, the worst decline in the top 20.

Omnicom's PHD joined OMD in the top ten, while further down the rankings there were dramatic billings declines for MediaVest Manchester (27.5%) and Arena BLM (24.8%).

To view the fully updated tables, including digital billings for the first time, read Campaign's 19 March issue.