Publicis Groupe leads Forrester’s global marketing services report


Publicis Groupe led Forrester’s just-released global marketing services report Wave, trailed closely by its competitors WPP and Omnicom Group after the firm recognized all three as leaders for their global scale and the strength of their current offerings.

In the latest report, produced to help CMOs select the right marketing partner, Jay Pattisall, principal analyst at Forrester and author of the study, evaluated 10 global marketing services providers against 17 criteria. Forrester Waves categorize agencies as leaders, strong performers, contenders or challengers. Accenture Interactive, Dentsu, IPG and Deloitte Digital emerged as strong performers in this report while the firm designated Media.Monks, Stagwell and Havas Group as contenders.

This report is the last of five released this year evaluating marketing service providers. It is Forrester’s first evaluation of global marketing service providers’ comprehensive offerings, reflecting how much convergence now shapes how brands evaluate their marketing partners. Analysts reward agencies that integrate marketing disciplines with ease, at a global scale. Those that leverage audience insights on platforms like Publicis’ Epsilon PeopleCloud, Omnicom’s Omni operating system and WPP’s Choreography unit, while still adhering to constantly changing privacy regulations, got top marks. And those who were able to show creative prowess combined with creative data intelligence, making their campaigns perform at maximum levels, pushed scores higher.

Forrester recently published its global media management services, and creative and content marketing Waves, and this one is the culmination of a massive data collection effort by the company. To be included in the holistic global evaluation published today, Forrester required each provider to have $450 million in global marketing revenue, established global marketing offerings and relevance to its clients—in this case, chief marketers at mid- to large-sized organizations.


Creative convergence

As integrated agency reviews increase, the lines separating agency, technology and consulting services are growing thinner. Accenture, Omnicom Group and WPP received high scores from Forrester for their creative and content service offerings, meaning they not only have strong creative offerings from their various agencies, but are able to merge that creative into integrated pitches, like WPP did in winning the global Coca-Cola business. It means that creative agencies are working with their media agencies and data and strategy teams to win big contracts across multiple areas.

That convergence is something that Pattisall said its clients are seeking, which is why creative and content is a big part of Forrester’s evaluations.

“What CMOs are looking for are providers that can connect and integrate the experience of marketing across several key areas,” Pattisall said, stating that before media and creative converged, advertising agencies were only concerned about producing ads, while media agencies were only concerned about the fiduciary responsibilities and making sure that they protected that investment. “Now, the global team leaders are charged with finding the right resources that meet the overall issue.”

He noted other examples of integrated offerings, including WPP’s Ford account with its combined Global Team Blue working as a single P&L, and Omnicom Media Group and BBDO’s relationship with AT&T.


High performers

Publicis earned exceptional scores for its market-leading approach to integration, amplified by its Power of One structure that facilitates its bespoke client solutions. Employees across Epsilon, Publicis Media agencies Publicis Sapient and other entities throughout the network can easily come together to work on a single client or project. Pattisall also praised Publicis for its advanced media and data offering, underpinned by its commitment to data privacy. The study portrays Publicis as adept at providing marketers an advanced, holistic and global answer to their marketing needs.

Publicis New York CEO Carla Serrano believes the network’s early bets on Power of One, consolidation, country-level operations and smart acquisitions are what ultimately drove the report’s outcome. Sapient’s work in system integration and ecommerce platform creation also drives end-to-end results for its clients. “It’s helpful when the CMO or CEO wants to transform their business and their marketing at the same time, because we can actually help them across what we call the kitchen and the living room,” she said.

WPP scored high in terms of sheer numbers, boasting the most employees and customers in the study. But the global network also scored high in workforce strategy, performance, creative and content services, customer data strategy and activation services and digital experience services—meaning sheer numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Forrester understandably pointed out WPP winning Coca-Cola Company’s integrated marketing responsibilities in November 2021 and touted its strong workforce and automation strategy. Its global marketing capabilities include scalable data-driven creative capabilities, integrated digital experience development, media performance prowess, strong identity management, measurement and analytics.

The study found that WPP had no glaring weaknesses for global marketing services delivery and counted it as a pioneer of bespoke agency teams created with the express purpose of serving a specific client.

Omnicom Group stood above most others with high scores in creative and content. It also received recognition for its Omni operating system and its data capabilities via the platform, and Pattisall deemed the group among the best at integrating service offerings and assembling global client teams.

As in the media management wave, Dentsu earned one of the highest scores in the study for its strategic vision and Pattisall awarded it points for its data strategy and activation services, supported by its Merkury audience insights platform.


Contenders and consultancies

Stagwell and Media.Monks, which earned some of the report’s lowest scores, are also considerably younger than their larger competitors. Forrester critiqued Media.Monks’ offering for its relative lack of scale, and ultimately its lack of media buying clout or diversity of buying expertise. Its proficiency in programmatic buying put it on par with Accenture and Deloitte.

“Accenture and Deloitte have a similar phenomenon going on,” Pattisall told Adweek.

Media.Monk’s global chief growth officer Joe Olsen echoed Pattisall’s remarks. Accenture Song, he told Adweek, is going after similar projects and its market positioning is analogous to Media.Monks.

“We’re chasing companies with $14 to 15 billion in revenue on that chart, and we’re pushing one this year,” he added, noting that he likes that the study is rewarding growth and the S4-owned network is happy to be included. “As long as we’re helping clients drive growth, we think we’re in the right spot.”

Media.Monks also stated that it is still growing as a network and also one that is a maker of content, which means it may take longer in the entire campaign process. So while the network may have lost some points by not having the capacity of other more established companies, Forrester did note that Media.Monks is a good fit for CMOs wanting to push the boundaries of digital with end-to end creative, production, analytics and activation services.


Non-participating agency networks

IPG and Havas Group did not formally participate in the evaluation. Forrester analysts score nonparticipating providers based on publicly-available information and their own pre-established knowledge of the space gleaned from prior briefings and conversations with clients.

“Once we decide that the marketplace is comprised of these top providers, we go and evaluate those providers—whether they fully participate or not,” said Pattisall.

IPG scored as a strong performer in the study, with Forrester noting that its strength is in data and privacy thought leadership from Acxiom’s capabilities in data management and identity services. But it notes the network’s splintering data, tech and services across Acxiom, Kinesso and Matterkind and an agency-first approach that runs against a market that values simplicity and holistic solutions.

IPG, however, sees its success based on its individual agencies combined with coordinating services from multiple agencies for integrated and collaborative teams when necessary, which doesn’t mesh with Forrester’s assessment.

“With their prior published research, including a recent blog post titled Why Holding Companies Matter More Than Agencies, Forrester has made clear that it considers the consolidation of marketing services at the holding company level as the most important criteria for evaluating companies in our sector,” Tom Cunningham, senior vice president, global communications at IPG, told Adweek. “This approach undervalues agency brands, which along with our people are IPG’s greatest strength. Forrester’s thesis is contrary to how IPG continues to successfully go to market, and contrary to the needs of most marketers, including our clients. For this reason, we decided not to participate in Forrester’s research this year.”

Cunningham gave recent examples of IPG’s market strategy, including Initiative’s Nike global media win, Post cereal picking Mediahub as its U.S. media agency of record and Prudential naming McCann its lead creative agency.

Still, Cunningham added that Forrester’s Wave does a good job of noting that the sector overall has adapted to massive shifts, including the deprecation of cookies, and showing that the industry does help clients grow in a digital-first world.


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