WPP

Is WPP the canary in the coal mine for the global ad business?

On Wednesday, the world’s largest ad agency holding company, WPP, spooked investors by warning about a slowdown that it projects will result in dismal sales growth of 1% or less.

Shares of the firm plummeted the most in a single day since 2000 and are now down by more than 20% this year.

Google shutters TV Ads platform but makes inroads against traditional ads

Google may be online advertising’s 800 pound gorilla, but using its digital dominance to push into traditional advertising markets has proven to be a real challenge.

In 2006, for instance, Google began trials of a platform designed to help advertisers more efficiently purchase ad inventory in newspapers.

In 2009, the search giant killed the offering. Ditto for a similar platform created to move radio ad inventory.

So perhaps it won’t come as a surprise that Google has decided to throw in the towel on Google TV Ads, an extension to AdWords that made it possible for advertisers to “bring digital buying and measurement technologies to traditional TV advertising.”

Tesco buys music service We7

Earlier this week, Sainsbury’s purchased a majority stake in ebook retailer Anobii from HMV for £1 in what was the latest example of a major retailer trying to extend its footprint into the world of digital content.

Yesterday, we saw another example of this same trend as Tesco purchased UK-based music streaming service We7 for £10.8m.

Ad agency as VC: WPP Digital invests $7m in mySupermarket

Over the past several years, Madison Avenue has made a concerted effort to cozy up to Silicon Valley and young technology startups.

And for good reason: with consumers spending more and more of their time online, the technology industry is increasingly important to brands. As a result, ad agencies have little choice but to keep up with technology and, if they’re lucky, spot the next big things before they become big.

Digital and mobile are underspent says Sir Martin Sorrell at CES 2012

Retailers and tech reporters were not the only ones clambering around the Convention Center at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week.

The event, attended by 140,000 people all eager to catch a glimpse of the latest technology wizardry from the likes of Panasonic, Samsung, Intel, Microsoft and about two and a half thousand other exhibitors, was also a meeting place for some of the biggest advertisers on the planet.

Spotting representatives from the four major agency holding companies, plus senior marketers from Unilever, Kraft, Intel and more, I managed to get five minutes with WPP CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell.

Ad:Tech NY: Free doesn’t have to be a four letter word

With media companies thinning out their newsrooms, struggling to stem revenue losses and worrying about the plausibility of subsisting on dwindling ad revenue online, there’s been a lot of talk over the past few months about charging for content.

The free versus paid debate was at the forefront of discussion on the first day of ad:tech in New York this week. Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, showed his cards early in the day, opening the event with a talk where he put his money with Rupert Murdoch when it comes to making customers pay for media content online:

“In order to make traditional models viable… you have to plumb where people are willing to pay for content.”

Sorrell seems bullish on consumers paying varying rates for content of varying quality, and despite predicting a winnowing of content suppliers online, is confident that media brands will need to charge to sustain the quality of their content. It’s a theory that found root later in the day as well.