- WPP reported an 11.9% increase in overall revenue and a 4.9% increase in like-for-like revenues for the first quarter of 2023, according to its latest earnings report. The company reaffirmed its overall guidance of 3-5% growth for the year.
- In prepared comments, CEO Mark Read emphasized the potential of the holding company’s investments in artificial intelligence. GroupM’s performance was a high point, with earnings up 6.1% in Q1, contributing to 36% of the company’s revenue.
- Other wins include $1.5 billion of new net business during the quarter and the acquisition of two influencer marketing agencies, Goat and Obviously, and Germany based PR agency 3K communication.
WPP, the world’s largest agency holding company, reported a positive start to the year with organic revenue growth of 2.9% for the first quarter. Across the industry, Publicis similarly saw growth, with organic revenue up 7.1%, meanwhile Interpublic Group saw net revenue down 2.3% year-over-year, though it similarly reaffirmed its growth forecast for the year.
Among the holding company’s business sectors, its global integrated agencies like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs was up 3%, including GroupM. Excluding GroupM, like-for-like revenue was up 0.7% YoY, with gains at Ogilvy offset by a slower start by Wunderman Thompson, credited to lower spend from technology clients, and AKQA, representative of a weaker start to the year for agency Grey.
WPP’s public relations like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs was up 2.2%, with FGS Global performing strongly and BCW and Hill+Knowlton Strategies posting slightly softer performances. WPP’s specialist agencies posted 1.9% like-for-like revenue growth, less pass-through costs based on strong growth from specialist agencies CMI Media Group and Landor & Fitch. The company also recently announced the acquisition of sonic branding firm amp, which will become part of Landor’s offerings.
AI continues to be brought forth as a strong point to the company, which CEO Read has praised previously. Press details noted that WPP is using AI to automate workflows, speed ideation processes and produce work for clients and that the tech proves particularly beneficial to both GroupM and creative production business Hogarth. The efforts are supported by long-term investments in AI, including the appointment of a head of creative AI in 2019 and the acquisition of AI tech company Satalia in 2021.
“[WPP is] working with technology from all the main AI companies, including Adobe, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Nvidia, and OpenAI, with dedicated enterprise platforms, proprietary to WPP, to deliver work to clients that protects their information and IP and using legal guidelines that allow us to responsibly deploy this technology,” a statement in the press release reads.
New business wins for WPP during the period, totaling $1.5 billion of net business, include Adobe, Ford, Maruti Suzuki, Mondelez and Swissport. Along with its growing bets on influencer marketing, the company in March announced a strategic partnership with KDDI, a telecommunications group in Japan, in effort to bridge Japanese content and culture globally and partnered with customer engagement platform Braze to help brands automate communications.