Is WPP Still The World’s Biggest HoldCo? Sort Of

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It’s common parlance in the B&T office to refer to WPP as the biggest of the communications holding companies (holdcos). However, when we were sifting through the full-year 2022 financial results, we started to wonder if this was still the truism we have always assumed it to be. We asked (B&T’s parent company) The Misfits’ CFO John Hromin to run his eye over the big five and deliver his verdict. Here’s what he came back with.

The world of advertising is dominated by a handful of giant holding companies that own many of the most well-known and influential agencies in the industry. These holding companies are responsible for billions of dollars in revenue and employ hundreds of thousands of people around the world. In this article, we’ll compare the Big 5 holding companies in advertising and see who comes out on top. All figures quoted are in USD and on the latest 2022 financial data using YCharts.

First up, we have WPP plc, based in London, UK. With a revenue of $17.52 billion and 115,473 employees worldwide, WPP is one of the largest advertising companies in the world. The company’s client list includes many of the biggest names in business, and its advertising and public relations campaigns have won numerous awards.

Next, we have Omnicom Group, based in New York City. With a revenue of $14.29 billion and approximately 74,200 employees, Omnicom is another major player in the advertising industry. The company owns some of the most well-known agencies in the world, including BBDO, DDB, and TBWA.

Coming in third is Publicis Groupe, based in Paris, France. With a revenue of $14.12 billion and 95,801 employees, Publicis is one of the largest advertising companies in the world. The company owns a wide range of agencies, including Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Publicis Sapient.

In fourth place, Interpublic Group (IPG), also based in New York City, with a revenue of $10.93 billion and approximately 58,400 employees. IPG owns several well-regarded agencies, including McCann Worldgroup, FCB, and MullenLowe.

Finally, we have Dentsu, based in Tokyo, Japan. With a revenue of $9.67 billion and over 64,832 employees, Dentsu is a major force in the advertising industry, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. The company owns several well-known agencies, including Dentsu Inc., Isobar, and Merkle.

So, who’s the biggest holding company in advertising? Based on revenue, WPP PLC comes out on top with $17.52 billion in revenue in 2022. Omnicom and Publicis Groupe are second and third, with both companies reporting revenues of $14.29 and $14.12 billion respectively.

However, when you factor in profitability (using earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation- EBITA) and Price Earnings Ratio (compares the price of a company’s stock to the earnings the company generates) Publicis Groupe comes out on top with an EBITDA of $2.889 billion and PE of 12.57.

Next is WPP PLC with $2.456B EBITDA and PE of 16.86.

Of course, the advertising industry is constantly changing, and these rankings may shift over time, but for now, WPP continues to hold the title of the biggest holding company in advertising.

The five largest advertising companies in the world based on their 2022 revenues:

  1. WPP PLC – US$17.52 billion.
  2. Omnicom Group – US$14.29 billion.
  3. Publicis Groupe – US$14.12 billion.
  4. IPG (Interpublic Group) – US$10.93 billion.
  5. Dentsu – US$9.67 billion.

The five largest advertising companies in the world by market capitalisation (based on the latest stock market data):

  1. Publicis Groupe – US$20.0 billion.
  2. Omnicom Group – US$18.57 billion.
  3. IPG (Interpublic Group) – US$13.94 billion.
  4. WPP PLC – US$13.33 billion.
  5. Dentsu – US$8.42 billion.

The five largest advertising companies in the world based on the number of employees:

  1. WPP PLC – 115,473 employees.
  2. Publicis Groupe – 95,801 employees.
  3. Omnicom Group – 74,200 employees.
  4. Dentsu – 64,832 employees.
  5. IPG (Interpublic Group) – 58,400 employees.

Profitability (using EBITA) of some of the largest advertising companies in the world based on their latest financial reports (2022):

  1. Publicis Groupe – EBITDA of US$2.889 billion, compared to the previous year of US$2.676 billion.
  2. WPP PLC – EBITDA of US$2.456 billion, compared to the previous year of US$2.434 billion.
  3. Omnicom Group – EBITDA of US$2.365 billion, compared to the previous year of US$2.404 billion.
  4. Dentsu – EBITDA of US$1.819 billion, compared to the previous year of US$1.187 billion.
  5. IPG (Interpublic Group) – EBITA of US$1.718 billion, compared to the previous year of US$1.679 billion.

Price Earnings Ratios of the five largest advertising companies based on their latest financial reports (2022):

  1. WPP PLC – had a P/E ratio of 16.86.
  2. Dentsu – had a P/E ratio of 16.50.
  3. Omnicom Group – had a P/E ratio of 14.38.
  4. IPG (Interpublic Group) – had a P/E ratio of 15.21.
  5. Publicis Groupe – had a P/E ratio of 12.57.



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