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Sorrell sees more media consolidation

News, 01 November 2016

LONDON: AT&T's planned takeover of Time Warner is the precursor to a wave of industry consolidation as traditional media groups look to combat the threat posed by the internet giants, according to Sir Martin Sorrell.

"We need more balance in the market place to counter the growing force of Facebook and Google," he said, as agency network holding company WPP reported its latest quarterly figures.

"CBS and Viacom seem to be a natural fit," he suggested. "We spend $1bn with CBS and $700m with Viacom so a combined entity would be the same as Facebook and Google."

Other possible tie-ups he could envisage happening, the Financial Times reported, included Comcast and Verizon, while one between 21st Century Fox and Sky was "logical".

"According to the top ten trends we see, convergence and consolidation is going to become more important," Sorrell stated.

He also took the opportunity to contrast WPP's experiences with the aforementioned internet giants, arguing that, because of its problems around regulation and taxation in Europe and also because of the challenge from Facebook, Google had become "more responsive" in the way it works with advertising companies and takes their feedback on board.

"Facebook, I think because it has been so successful, is probably, to be blunt, a little bit more difficult to deal with," he added. "I think that's not a view we are alone in having … My view is that is going to change because they will see the benefit and the merit."

Of the major issue exercising WPP's home market – although 80% of its earnings come from outside the UK – Sorrell said: "We are really in the foothills of Brexit … There are a lot of things the government has to sort out to reduce the uncertainty."

Meanwhile, the company is expanding in Germany, France, Italy and Spain in order to better serve clients as business moves there from London.

Data sourced from Financial Times, Business Insider, Guardian; additional content by Warc staff