Sir Martin Sorrell has wasted no time kicking off 2020 where he left off in 2019 – predicting the demise of the holding companies.
Speaking at CES – the world’s biggest consumer technology trade show – in Nevada yesterday, the 74-year-old media sage again used a speaker’s panel to predict the demise of traditional media companies while spruiking the merits of his new venture, S4.
The former WPP supremo said the secret to S4’s success was at polar opposites to what the traditional holding companies were still trying to do.
Sorrell said S4 was based around four key principals. It had a sole digital focus and that made it “faster, better and cheaper”. He said he wanted S4 staff financially vested in the business. And, fourthly, it offered the “holy trinity” business method – using first-party data to develop digital content and having the ads sold programmatically.
He then chided the holding companies for hanging on to their outdated business models which, he added, would ultimately lead to their demise.
“This will be the year the client-and-agency model will decay,” Sorrell said, his comments reported on industry site Ad Age.
He then added that the only way traditional media companies would survive was through “dismemberment or by going private”.
“2020 will be the year when the rubber really hits the road for the holding companies,” he added. “The pressure will intensify because growth will be really hard to come by.”
Sorell added it was S4’s nimbleness that would give it its competitive advantage while the holding companies would suffer due to their “analog baggage that is impossible to get rid of”.
He’d previously called for WPP to be sold off, with the media buying arm, GroupM, the only part worth retaining. Sorrell remains a significant shareholder in WPP.
When asked by the CES crowd where he saw S4 in five years’ time, Sorrell said his plans included “doubling the size of the company organically every three years”.
He added: “Total acceptance by our industry, clients, by press – by whatever – that this model is the model of the future.”
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