Aegis Calls U.S. 'Most Sophisticated' Media Market, Shows Results Of Focusing On It

If there was any doubt in the advertising and media services industry that the U.S. once again is leading innovation and growth, it was laid to rest this morning during presentations made by top executives of Aegis Group, the London-based agency holding company that helped shift Madison Avenue's continental focus to the other side of the Atlantic more than a decade ago. Aegis, which sparked the unbundling of U.S. media services agencies by importing its Carat unit stateside in the late 1990s, and bringing with it a Western European orientation toward communications planning and accountability-based research systems, now believes the U.S. is where the innovative thinking is, according to presentations made to investors by top managers.

While it will continue to focus on key emerging markets that represent high rates of growth, Aegis chief Jerry Buhlmann said an equal amount of the holding company's focus would remain on the U.S., because it will remain the world's largest advertising market for some time, and because much of the industry's transformation is happening here.

"The U.S. market is increasingly sophisticated from a media perspective," noted a presentation by Aegis Media North America chief Nigel Morris. Morris cited the effects that digital media innovation was having on the way clients look at their media strategies and on the way consumers relate to brands, products and services -- and especially the impact it is having on "legacy" media business models.

Morris noted that the so-called "convergence" effect digital media is having on the relationships between consumers, media and brands is also leading to some seeming contradictions, including the fact that everything is "interconnected, interdependent and transparent."

He said Aegis Media units such as Carat, iProspect and Posterscope have been focusing on ways to leverage the "interconnected" relationships consumers have with media, and have been focused on "turning earned media into the new mass media."

Morris reviewed how Aegis Media has transformed its organization over the past two years, leveraging its specialist experts and utilizing senior account teams to integrate their services on behalf of clients.

The strategy has been paying off, and Aegis Media has been the fastest-growing sector within Aegis Group, especially its North American operations.

Morris showed "new business" results for the past 15 months, indicating that Aegis' Carat unit is now the most "competitive" media services agency in the marketplace, winning or retaining more than $2.2 billion in media services account pitches over that period -- more than twice the performance of its next closest competitor, WPP's Mindshare, which had a little more than $1 billion during the same period.

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