Media Agency Holding Company of the Year: GroupM


A Behemoth on the Leading Edge

GroupM is the biggest media agency holding company in the world, with 17.5 percent market share and $60.51 billion in estimated billings for 2006, according to RECMA, a research company. The company is considered the behemoth of the industry when it comes to media buying power.

"I think something like one out of every three TV commercials is placed by them," says David Sable, vice chairman and COO of Wunderman, a WPP company, who views GroupM as "one of the most powerful media entities in the world."

GroupM, a full-service division of WPP, consists of MediaCom Worldwide, Mediaedge:cia Global, MindShare Worldwide, and MAXUS. And needless to say, GroupM had a very busy year in 2006: It acquired publishing firm IEG Inc. and word-of-mouth marketing agency M80, negotiated a volume contract for advertising on TiVo, and launched Connections, a qualitative and quantitative measurement tool. It managed to do all of this while churning out memorable and successful media programs for a Fortune 500 client roster that includes American Express, IBM, and Unilever (MindShare); AT&T, Xerox, and Pizza Hut (Mediaedge:cia); Nokia, Lilly, and Staples (MediaCom); and Estée Lauder and T. Rowe Price (MAXUS).

But it's not merely GroupM's size that makes it great. It's a mindset. "What you get from them is their strategic thinking, and I think that has really become their core competency," Sable says.

CEO Irwin Gotlieb lauds the firm's depth. "GroupM has a greater penetration in analytics, insight, and other key activities where the group can encourage rapid development" across an array of segments "including digital, organizing finance, sports, entertainment marketing, content creation, and media buying," Gotlieb says. For example, the company focuses on developing the best analytic tools and deploys them in all GroupM organizations, he says, and each agency is encouraged to adapt the tools and processes to its clients' needs.

Sable credits Gotlieb with much of the firm's success. "They're not just on the leading edge--they're on the bleeding edge," Sable says. "When I want to know what's new, chances are somebody there has already seen it and can tell me where it fits. I think they have an amazing view of the world."

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