Martin Sorrell sees gulf between adland’s ‘two worlds’ getting bigger

Martin Sorrell. chairman, S4 Capital (Photo: Reuters)

To Martin Sorrell, the gulf between digital and traditional advertising is about to get bigger. 

Digital advertising will crack 70% of ad spending by 2024, having reached a tipping point last year of more than 50%, the chairman of S4 Capital Plc said in an interview. It currently has around 55% to 60% of the market, he said.

“There are two worlds," he said. “I see continued growth in the digital world. The traditional world continues to be under pressure."

Traditional groups have struggled to hang on to market share while Google and Facebook Inc. take the lead in the shift to digital advertising. Sorrell turned shopping basket manufacturer Wire and Plastic Products Plc into WPP Plc, the world’s biggest advertising group, with a streak of acquisitions from 1985. He left in 2018 and set up S4 Capital as a digital-only marketing services and ad tech firm.

His firm said Monday first-half revenue jumped almost 98% to 279.3 million pounds ($385.9 million), while its pretax loss widened to 19.4 million pounds. The London-based company raised its guidance for full-year like-for-like gross profit growth to 40% from 35%-40% previously and 25% at the start of the year. 

He said the trillions in dollars of economic stimulus unleashed in response to the coronavirus outbreak has given S4 Capital’s industry a boost, and it’s been able to weather the pandemic as the shift to digital “doesn’t taper in hard times."

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