Sir Martin Sorrell tells Facebook and Google that measurement is crucial to continue winning client spend

Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP chief executive, today (24 February) took to the Mobile World Congress stage to warn his “frenemies” Facebook and Google that independent measurement of how well media spend performs with them is crucial to remain the leaders in their field.

With mobile increasingly coming to the fore in WPP’s media mix modelling, Sorrell discussed how the emergence of mobile technologies was impacting the operating model of the agency network, which spends $80bn a year on media, and explained the reasons behind the “under-investment in mobile”.

He explained that with digital “roughly 40 per cent” of WPP’s total business Google accounted for $4bn of its total spend last year, making it the sole-biggest media owner it invests with and Facebook coming in as the second-largest digital media owner, garnering $1bn worth of campaign spend from the network in 2015.

He said: “When you look at the mobile investment by our industry – not just by WPP – it is something like six per cent of the investment, where as it counts for about 25 per cent of [consumers’] time spent… so there is an over investment in analogue [media channels] like newspapers.”

However, this is due to lack of clarity around the measurement of mobile advertising, particularly in the ‘walled garden’ ecosystems of Facebook and Google, according to the WPP chief. “Creativity on mobile is one thing, but measurement is another, people are not sure of the ROI [of mobile advertising],” he told attendees.

“We’re increasingly looking at data and measurement. And measurement is going to become absolutely critical. Our frenemies in technology – the new media owners – are going to have to spend more-and-more time thinking about how they can refine [proof of] ROI for our clients,” he said.

“The only way we can get a better mousetrap [i.e. for more spend on mobile media] is for measurement.”

Facebook and Google are easily the market leaders when it comes to mobile advertising budgets, with eMarketer estimating that both of them combined command over 70 per cent of total mobile advertising spend.

However, the nature of their platforms, Google’s DoubleClick and Facebook’s Atlas, are often a source of frustration for media agencies, with many claiming the attribution methods employed by both outfits are the equivalent of them ‘marking their own homework’.

Without assurances of the efficacy of mobile investment it will remain a minority interest as the “mobile revolution” has yet to register with a lot of clients, according to Sorrell.

Commenting separately on how technologies such as internet-connected devices, and virtual reality, was disrupting the industry, he added: “It’s not advertising anymore, it’s much more than that and mobile is the epitome of what we’re talking about, we have to find some better vocabulary.”

Ronan Shields

I cover digital media trading and martech for The Drum magazine, plus I write my own opinion pieces, I don't really commission them.

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