WPP’s Sorrell and Agency Execs Question Future of Display

WPP founder and CEO, Martin Sorrell, has openly expressed his concerns about the future of the online display market.

When questioned about the continued effectiveness of online advertising in a recent interview with Bloomberg, Sorrell stated, “In display, I think there are questions. In search, I think there is a clear relationship. The jury’s still out on display. In times like these, people start to question its value.”

Addressing the possible implications of the Obama administration on matters of online privacy and targeted advertising, Sorrell went on to suggest that Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, made a mistake introducing the firm’s controversial Beacon program in November ’07.

“Transparency is important,” he said. “Even the world’s leading expert in social networking made a mistake in terms of that introduction, and he had to reverse the position very quickly.” Facebook effectively withdrew the program weeks after it was introduced, in reaction to widespread protest from users.

Speaking with ClickZ News this week, i-level MD, Mark Creighton expressed similar views on the display market, predicting a “flat year,” and suggesting that networks would bear the brunt of advertiser cutbacks. “Growth areas for 2009 won’t be about media,” he predicts. “The focus will shift more towards eCRM, and engaging in conversation with consumers.”

Despite a mixed reception from the agency community, the Institute Practitioners in Advertising’s recent report on the future of advertising issued a stark warning to agencies regarding the potential downfall of traditional online ad formats. As the popularity of social networks, blogs, and viral media continues to grow, the consumer “will increasingly mediate messages between brands, themselves and other consumers, and could radically diminish the power and influence of the paid-for advertising industry,” the report claimed.

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