As we settle into February, holding companies are steadily rolling out their 2019 annual reports.
Last week saw a mixed report from Publicis Groupe in the wake of a tumultuous year, including a decline in organic growth. This week Omnicom and IPG both release earnings reports for 2019. Adweek caught up with Forrester principal analyst Jay Pattisall to ask what to expect from the two holding companies’ earnings calls and what to anticipate from each in 2020.
The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Adweek: What can we expect to see from IPG this time around?
Jay Pattisall: In the last couple of quarters, Q3 in particular, we saw some organic growth. At the time, their anticipation was that they would hit their [full-year] target of 2-3% organic growth for the fourth quarter. They were kind of bullish in their anticipation of Q4 results. I really don’t see anything in the market, specifically to IPG, that would prevent that.
Their technology strategy is moving forward. They have been busy integrating Acxiom across their business and launched and created Kinesso, the division that would work side by side with Acxiom to help implement the data management and data marketing capabilities [within] their agencies. They’re putting the pieces into place to help continue to grow that ability to scale marketing, particularly media, in a more personalized, one-to-one manner.
The more high-profile new business win that I’m aware of is UM and American Express. Acxiom data played [a significant] role in [winning] that business. The data layer continues to play an increasingly important role, and it looks like IPG has taken some appropriate steps to be able to bring that to their agencies. There’s still a lot more to go, though.
Do you think the recession is still something holding companies are concerned with and potentially planning for?
For the last two to three earnings calls, across the board, the speculation of a 2020 recession has been brought up from analysts. I suppose that they could potentially be asked the same question, but my sense is that the public’s concern around that issue seems to have waned a little bit.
Omnicom has a different approach to data with its Omni data platform. How important a role has Omni and Omnicom’s attempts to integrate that offering, played for the holding company in the past year, and how do you anticipate that contributing to its performance in 2020?
I see the Omni platform that Omnicom has built as different in the components but similar in how they operate and what the results are. What I mean by that is that all of the agencies’ audience activation platforms enable them to create, define and enrich audiences with data and then go and activate them at scale in paid media channels. And then, some of these platforms have [a greater] capacity for measurement and evaluation, and Omni’s platform even has elements that allow insights and inspiration for creative. Omni is distinctive in that creative use case.
The principal difference is the type of data and where it’s coming from. IPG and Publicis and Dentsu Aegis Network use a proprietary set of data as well as first-party client data and third-party data partnerships. Omnicom uses third-party data partnerships and first-party data. They didn’t buy a proprietary set that’s associated with any particular data management company. And that’s the real difference.
They all have the audience activation capability, and I think as 2020 develops and we may see further restrictions for data and privacy, either in a regulatory environment or as a result of some steps taken by publishers and ad tech platforms. We’ll see a bit more restriction around the types of data that are available.