Ad Industry: Solid 2010 Performance, SMG No. 1 In Billings

Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group now has bragging rights as the top-ranked global agency network, according to a new report covering 2010 billings from agency research company RECMA. SMG toppled Omnicom's OMD, which held the No. 1 spot in 2009, when SMG was a close second.

According to the report, SMG had global billings of nearly $31.1 billion last year -- up 14.2% -- while OMD slipped to the No. 2 position with a total of almost $30.2 billion, up 10%.

And while SMG could crow about grabbing the billings crown, RECMA noted that the industry generally had reason to applaud its collective 2010 performance, which was up nearly 14% from recession-plagued 2009, with total billings of $286.5 billion.

"All signs point to an industry in sustained growth, due to increased investments from major international advertisers and the continuing development of digital within the agency core business," the Paris-based RECMA concluded in its report.

Indeed, the research firm noted that a significant part of SMG's growth was due to a boost in spending by client Procter & Gamble, which increased its ad spending last year in the U.S. by 18%, while the marketer's China outlay soared by 80%.

By holding company, RECMA reported that billings rankings remained unchanged -- with WPP's GroupM retaining the top position, posting a 13% gain to $82.2 billion. Publicis' Vivaki was again second-ranked with a 15% gain to $59.4 billion, while Omnicom Media Group was again third, up almost 12% to $38.4 billion.

RECMA noted that while Aegis retained its fourth-place holding-company ranking, Interpublic's Mediabrands, ranked fifth, closed the gap by $1 billion year-to-year. Aegis ended 2010 with billings of $31.2 billion, up 13%, while Mediabrands was up 19% to $30.3 billion. Sixth-ranked Havas Media was up 14% to $14.8 billion. RECMA said that about 50% of worldwide ad spending during 2010 was handled by agency networks controlled by the six major agency holding companies.

Meanwhile, Publicis' ZenithOptimedia captured third place on the global agency network scoreboard -- toppling WPP's Mindshare, which held the spot by a razor-thin margin over ZO last year. ZO posted a 16.2% gain in global billings to almost $28.4 billion, while Mindshare, dropping to fourth place, was up 13.2 percent to $27.6 billion.

The biggest gainer by percentage was the smallest (and 13th-ranked) network -- WPP's Maxus, which posted a 28% gain to nearly $4.5 billion. WPP's MediaCom had the smallest percentage growth -- 8.7% -- and was the only network not to post a double-digit gain, RECMA noted. It ranked fifth, unchanged from the prior year with a billings total of nearly $25 billion.

Also remaining stable in ranking was Aegis Group's Carat, placing sixth and taking in nearly $24.5 billion, up 12.7%. WPP's MEC ranked seventh (also unchanged) with almost $23.8 billion, up 13.9%. Interpublic's Universal McCann repeated its eighth-place finish in global billings but was the second-highest percentage gainer, up 23% to $16.8 billion. Havas' MPG again finished in ninth place, up 14 percent to $14.8 billion.

Rounding out the top 10 was IPG's Initiative, up 13% to $12.4 billion. Omnicom's PHD was the 11th-ranked network with a little more than $8.1 billion -- up 19%, while Aegis' Vizeum ranked 12th with $5.3 billion, up 10%.

New in this year's report is a breakout for the global networks in the top 12-biggest spending countries, which account for 80% of worldwide ad expenditures. The ranking results were largely the same as for the global breakouts with the exception that ZO and OMD flipped positions.

RECMA indicated that U.S. tallies will be issued toward the end of July.

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