5.8% decline in 2020 global new business as Creative wins dry up

Even in a tumultuous year, new business revenue in 2020 was down by single-digits at 5.8% globally thanks to a dynamic media landscape. Media new business revenue for the period of January to December 2020 increased by 6.9%, making up for a much weaker Creative market (-12.6%), according to new business data from independent marketing consultancy, R3.

“The numbers tells us something deeper than a desire for greater efficiency,” says Greg Paull, Co-founder & Principal at R3. “Technology has made media a key driver of marketing. Being at the right place, at the right time, at the right price makes a significant impact when it comes to conversion. Creative is reliant on media for form, visibility, and engagement. Marketers recognize the shift and are looking for partners who can lead.”

Havas Worldwide is the top performing agency globally in Creative new business, moving up from third place the previous year. Droga5, VMLY&R, Isobar, and Ogilvy follow, making up the top five. Notably, Droga5 has moved ten places in R3’s new business league in the past twelve months, winning global accounts for Airbnb and Huggies. VMLY&R leapt from twentieth spot to third, finding its stride since restructuring in 2018.  

Though the media new business landscape has been resilient, revenue from wins for the top five media agencies decreased by 27% compared to the previous year. MediaCom leads in new business wins, followed closely by Initiative, Wavemaker, Starcom, and OMD. This marks a shift in top performers, as MediaCom was the only agency to maintain a top five position from the previous year.

“Like it’s revamped agency proposition which focuses on systems thinking and business performance, MediaCom is using language that resonates with clients,” says Paull. “Marketers expect data expertise and capability from all their partners. Media agencies need to continue to adjust their offering to really understand their clients’ business.”

WPP outperformed the holding groups, winning double the revenue and number of new business wins than its closest contender Publicis Groupe. WPP’s direction, which is more aligned to the fast-digitalizing marketplace, has enabled the holding company to surpass its previous year’s Creative revenue by 134% and Media revenue by 161%. Interpublic, Omnicom, and Dentsu round up the top five performers. Dentsu ranks second in total number of wins.

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