Publicis: 60% of revenue to come from digital

James McGrath
By James McGrath | 13 February 2015

French advertising giant Publicis is talking up its acquisition of Sapient after unveiling a full-year underlying profit of €829 million euros ($1.2 billion), something which it admitted was less than its expectations.

Publicis, which owns Leo Burnett Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi, VivaKi, Starcom MediaVest and more, booked a revenue €7.2 billion euros on the back of organic growth of 2%, with ongoing weakness in Europe offset by strength in emerging economies.

Elsewhere, there was a shout-out to its Australian operations, which grew its organic revenue growth by 5.2% in the fourth quarter, above the group average of 3.2%.

“The first nine months have been quite tough and showed a growth which was not at the level of what Publicis is used to delivering,” Publicis CEO Maurice Levy told Euro Business Media post-result.

“So we were quite disappointed.”

Publicis used the opportunity to talk up its digital game, with 42% of its revenue coming from digital sources. Digital's growth rate is also 7.3% against a contraction rate of 1.2% from analog sources.

Levy was keen to talk about digital given its recently completed acquisition of Sapient, which it completed last week.

Sapient operates 37 offices globally and employs 13,000 people. It has strong growth trajectory of 17% compound annual growth rate over five years reaching $1.4 billion by the end of 2014.

The deal also comprises SapientNitro, Razorfish Global, Rosetta and DigitasLBi, Sapient Global Markets and Sapient Government Services.

After the results, Levy said the Sapient acquisition fit into its game plan of having 60% of its revenue come from digital sources by 2018.

“We can say that we are more a digital company and more an internet company than an analogue company,” Levy said.

“If we look now at the future, which is 2018 ... what will be our number? On digital we will have more than 60%, and this shows clearly that we are going to lead the industry in the most important part of our future, which is the digital landscape.”

Locally, Publicis agencies have been given the remit to chase digitally-led clients.

For example, while ZenithOptimedia lost high-profile FMCG clients last year, it added HP, Appliances Online, Fitbit, and Rabodirect.

It also signalled a refocus on digital by hiring a head of data analytics earlier this year, a first for the local agency.

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