Sorrell Questions Value of Facebook and Google Ads

The pendulum has “swung too far” towards video and online content and may swing back in favour of traditional media which remains highly influential WPP chief executive  Sir Martin Sorrell has said.

Sir Martin also questioned the effectiveness of advertising on digital platforms like Google and Facebook, criticising the relatively low audience measurement standards used online, compared to the engagement of newspaper media, The Newspaper Works reported.

“About half of all video is watched online without the sound. The scale that is used for viewership is three seconds. Now that I would even say is ludicrous in relation to the hurdle that a TV viewer … or newspaper readership has to reach,” he said.

During his half hour Q&A session at the forum hosted by The Newspaper Works in Sydney, Sir Martin canvassed a range of issues including new online companies that are in the “disruption business” and the rise of programmatic trading.

“You wouldn’t give your media plan if you’re a client, to a media owner. So why do you give it to Google? Google monetises its inventory just like any media owner. Google is not a technology company it is a media owner, the same thing applies to Facebook.”

Speaking about future of journalism, Sir Martin said media companies should avoid viewing print, online, radio and TV as segmented assets. He said companies need to experiment, drive their traditional assets towards digital and develop further opportunities for their online products.

“You have to change the engines on the aeroplane as you’re flying,” he said.

“It’s not going to be like it was and we have to get used to that. It’s not going to be as profitable, it’s not going to be done in the same way. It’s been disrupted so we have to fashion what we do to the new environment.

Sir Martin said there had to be more restructuring, reform and consolidation in traditional print, “but there is a very big opportunity in digital print and mobile print.” However, he said that in some respects the pendulum had swung too far towards digital and noted the enduring influence of print media.

“There’s been some very effective work in the UK showing, for example, that newspaper audiences are as big, or even bigger, than audiences of Google,” he said.