MediaCom retains top agency spot while Publicis agencies slip

LONDON - Publicis agencies Starcom MediaVest and ZenithOptimedia each shed more than 15% of their media billings last year, according to Nielsen, with MediaCom retaining its status as the number one media agency for the seventh year in a row.

The Nielsen data shows how difficult 2008 was for media agencies, as the economy took a sharp downward turn. Among the top 10 media agencies by billings, only three posted significant increases, while one, Mindshare, roughly maintained billings from 2007.

MediaCom was confirmed as the first UK media agency to break the £1b-plus barrier, increasing billings by 4.1% year on year.

Carat posted the biggest annual percentage growth in billings of any top 10-ranked media agency, as it picked up a flurry of high-profile accounts, including Kelloggs and Santander.

Overall, however, out of the top 20-ranked media agencies, Havas MPG and Aegis' Vizeum posted the biggest and second-biggest billings increases respectively in percentage terms. MPG was up 16.7% to £140,238,952 while Vizeum was up 13.2% to £191,217,808.

The Nielsen figures also reveal the extent of Initiative's slide last year, as the agency lost accounts such as Orange's £75m media account. It lost more than one-fifth (21.62%) of its billings year on year, billing a total of £216,121,273. Overall it was a bad year for Interpublic, with its other UK media operation, Universal McCann - which now calls itself UM - shedding 17% of billings to £183,943,322.

OMD retained its second-place status, although it lost ground on MediaCom, shedding 10.3% of billings year on year, to finish 2008 with billings of £762,592,791.

Maxus, which rebranded from BJK&E in December, was another expanding media agency, increasing billings by 10.4% year on year to £59,202,128.

Nielsen's figures are estimated costs based on factors including rate card, discounts and viewing figures. Direct Mail and Internet spend data are one month behind spend data for other media.

 The top 20 media agencies 2008 by billings (Nielsen)

2008 RankingAgency2008Exp. Yr on Yr Diff %Last Year's Ranking
5Starcom UK Group 560,764,851-15.50%4
8Walker Media235,126,543-11.72%9
9Initiative Media London216,121,273-21.62%8
12Universal McCann183,943,322-17.27%11
13Media Planning Group140,238,95216.70%14
14Mediavest Manchester134,827,593-13.74%13
15Brilliant Media105,079,359-11.53%15
16Arena BLM62,412,570-12.25%16
18Maxus (formerly BJK&E)59,202,12810.41%22
19Feather Brooksbank58,918,322-0.76%18
20Zed Media50,963,166-13.31%19

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