“This is the greatest advertising opportunity since the invention of cereal.”
– Don Draper
Sometimes, when I am watching an old episode of ‘Mad Men’ on a long plane flight, I find myself wondering what Don Draper would think if he we was transported to 2014. What would he be most surprised about: No more martini lunches? No smoking in business meetings? I’m sure these would all be wild for him to see, but I think he would most likely be surprised about how much the “advertising” business has changed in the last 50 years.
He wouldn’t recognize many of the companies that started out in the 1950s as advertising agencies. The leaders have consolidated into multinational giants and expanded into a wide range of complementary businesses. I can’t think of a company that better exemplifies that change than WPP, now the world’s largest agency. From its origins as a wire shopping basket company in 1971 when it was acquired for less than $1M by Martin Sorrell, it’s grown into a $30B industry leader. This growth is a result of good management, acquisitions and above all, a relentless expansion of the definition of an “ad agency” to the point that “advertising” seems no longer applicable. This expansion/diversification has been so successful that as much as three quarters of the company’s revenue comes from business types that Don Draper would not even recognize.
WPP’s March Toward Social Data Leadership
Today there is no other technology driving a greater transformation in how companies communicate with their customers than social media. The conversation has evolved from “one to many” mass communication to a “many to many” approach. WPP has stayed at the forefront of this revolution through savvy investing and by partnering with emerging social media leaders like Buddy Media (now part of Salesforce.com) and Twitter (global partnership).
After an extensive evaluation process, we are proud to announce that WPP has selected DataSift as its global social data platform. Alongside a variety of existing social analytics and monitoring applications at WPP, DataSift will power a wide range of applications that have been (or will be) developed internally across many of the 3,000 companies world-wide that operate under the WPP umbrella.
Advertising In The Age Of Social Data
At DataSift we believe that social media is revolutionizing how companies make decisions and interact with their customers. A combination of big data processing capabilities and social data (from private and public networks) enable smart brands to develop one-on-one relationships with customers, deliver highly targeted and relevant messaging and spend advertising dollars more effectively. Increasingly social data is also infusing a wide range of business intelligence applications that extend beyond social.
It has evolved so much as a global organization that WPP’s companies now spend more on “advertising”/messaging with Google than with News Corp. We look forward to the next step in the evolution of platforms that WPP’s companies work with. Might they one day spend more on Twitter and Facebook combined than they do on Google or News Corp?
In ‘Mad Men’, character Harry Crane had to work hard to convince the partners of Sterling Cooper of his wild idea to start a TV department. TV advertising is now a $202 billion global business. We think we are in the very early days of the social media industry and what it will become. We’re not sure if it will ever be a $200B business, but there have already been some predictions that it will grow from $8B in 2013 to $20B in 2018. We look forward to working with WPP and our growing base of application customers to make that happen.