WPP says clients spend more on digital media than expected

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LONDON, Aug. 5 - WPP, the world's biggest advertising company, said underlying net sales in the second quarter jumped 19.3%, beating expectations and taking first-half growth to 11%, ahead of 2019 as clients ramped up spending in the COVID recovery.

Chief Executive Mark Read said the second quarter growth was its highest on record, as clients reinvested in marketing, specifically with regard to digital media, e-commerce and technology.

It meant WPP bounced back to 2019, levels a year ahead of its forecasts.

Clients see a strong outlook for the second half of the year and enter the next year, they're choosing to invest in their brands, he said in an interview on Thursday.

They're shifting a lot of money into digital media, he said. We're seeing continued growth in public relations and corporate affairs given the importance of employee communication and public reputation.

The UK Group has upgraded its full-year outlook to growth of 9 - 10%, with a headline operating margin towards the upper end of the range of 13.5%-140%.

Its quarterly performance mirrors that of its peers, with Omnicom, IPG and France's Publicis beating strong forecasts in July.

The recovery at WPP, owner of Ogilvy, Grey and GroupM, comes after CEO Mark Read sought to combine the group's new and digital capabilities with its digital work, a New Approach that was demanded by clients.

The pandemic also allowed it to win work to help tech companies build digital offerings when traditional commerce routes closed suddenly.