wavemaker: India biz growing faster than China for WPP co Wavemaker: CEO Toby Jenner

WPP-owned GroupM’s media agency network Wavemaker‘s India unit is growing faster than its China unit, recording a 50% increase in revenue in 2023 while nearly doubling its profit compared to 2019 due to early investments in areas such as technology, data analytics, content, and commerce, a top company executive has stated.

Wavemaker Global CEO Toby Jenner said the media agency network’s early investment in emerging areas has helped it reap the benefits of digitisation, which got accelerated in emerging markets like India due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also said that the US and UK are Wavemaker’s biggest markets globally, followed by China and India, which are neck and neck. “India is growing faster than China this year, and I think next year as well. So potentially, India could be a top-three market in 2024,” Jenner said.

With companies of all sizes increasing their advertising spending on digital due to the reach and targeting capabilities that it offers, Wavemaker has ridden the digitisation wave by building capabilities in influencer marketing, e-commerce, and artificial intelligence.

“If you win more clients and you have the capabilities to service those clients in areas like commerce, performance marketing, data, content, and addressability, then clients are going to invest in those services,” Jenner said.

Despite a challenging 2023, the Wavemaker chief is projecting the Indian advertising market to grow by 14% in 2024. He also believes that Wavemaker India will outstrip industry growth.”Globally, Wavemaker has grown, and the broader business has grown over 25% in those same periods. And the bottom line has grown by over a third. So, India is outperforming the global averages, but the global averages are very strong as well,” he noted.Jenner said that the Indian market is attractive for global companies like Wavemaker due to its huge population.

He cited the example of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final match between India and Australia, which he said was watched by close to half a billion people on both TV and digital.

“Global streaming platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and Paramount+ would die for that type of audience,” the Wavemaker CEO said.

According to global research firm COMvergence, global media ad spending stood at $401 billion in 2022, with the big six advertising holding groups, including WPP, Publicis, Interpublic Group, Dentsu, Omnicom, and Havas, managing $213 billion of that amount.

“WPP represents about a third of every dollar that’s invested worldwide, and Wavemaker is probably about a third of the media spends managed by WPP,” he stated.