Omnicom forms digital unit

02 October 2009

NEW YORK: Omnicom Group, the US advertising holding company, has created a new unit responsible for making acquisitions in the digital sector, and also for developing its overall technological capacity in this area.

GroupM, the media umbrella of WPP Group, has recently predicted that digital media will deliver 15.4% of US adspend this year, rising to 17% in 2010.

The company has also forecast that global digital revenues will rise by 11% next year, to nearly $65 billion (€44.8bn; £40.8bn), with an overall market share of around 15%.

According to Omnicom's figures, it currently controls five of the top 25 digital agencies around the world, and two search agencies holding such a position in their respective category.

Omnicom Digital, its new specialist arm, will be headed by Jonathan Nelson, previously of Accrue, a web analytics firm, and Organic, which produced the Apache computer server.

"All our major business platforms have a strong digital component," said John Wren, president/ceo of Omnicom. "We are well represented in all significant digital platforms."

"At the holding company level, Jonathan will help in the exploration and development of new technologies, determining where investment in companies and talent should be increased and helping clients with digital opportunities," he added.

Nelson argued Omnicom has not been as active as many of its rivals in this area to date, and would adopt a varied approach going forward.

"We haven't been the acquisition machine some of our peers have been. We're looking at ways to spur organic growth and collaboration," he said.

While digital is at the forefront of most of the major marketing services conglomerates' current plans, some are also attempting to employ new technology to increase the relevance of more traditional forms of media.

WPP Group, for example, will use a targeted television advertising service provided by TidalTV from the start of next year, employing set-top box data to supply ads based on users' individual habits and preferences.

The UK firm has also formed a similar alliance with Dish Network, and previously invested in the behavioural platforms developed by Invidi and Visible World.

Data sourced from Omnicom/Forbes; additional content by WARC staff