Sorrell Seeks Search Supremacy

19 February 2008

LONDON: Sir Martin Sorrell (pictured) may have his critics. But few have accused him of lack of vision – a quality he first demonstrated in 1989 when, all chutzpah, he emerged from the adland boondocks with an offer to buy David Ogilvy's eponymous agency.

"Why should I sell to someone I've never head of who wants to buy this company with borrowed money," asked the great man?

The rest is history.

The passage of nineteen years has, if anything, honed Sorrell's ability to see the wood for trees. The latest example of which is the refocusing of WPP Group's media planning and buying assets in search advertising.

GroupM, the sub-holding entity that manages WPP's media activities, is set to consolidate its search operations around the world, creating what will likely be the globe's largest search advertising specialist.

The project is expected to employ around four hundred people worldwide, and will meld Group M's existing search assets: notably the search unit of 24/7 Real Media; organic search provider Outrider; Catalyst, an organic and paid search specialist; and Quisma, an agency specializing in paid search.

AdAge magazine speculates that this may eventually lead to all Group M account teams being led by search specialists.

A not unfeasible outcome given that search advertisers spent more than $8.6 billion (€5.86bn; £4.38bn) in 2007, according to eMarketer. That figure will likely double to $16.6bn by 2011.

There is also a school of thought which holds that because search is so closely linked to consumers' buying intentions, it could also help inform other marketing tactics and judge their effectiveness.

Declares Group M Interaction Worldwide ceo Rob Norman: "Very few service providers in search can claim to deliver in multiple geographies and in conjunction with other media capabilities."

Once the venture is up and running, each Group M agency –  MindShare, MediaCom, Maxus and Mediaedge:cia – will operate a search service fully integrated with its other disciplines.

Moreover, all  participants will share the sub-holding company's technology, training programs and back-office functions.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff