Media specialists shine

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Now that media has largely been unbundled from top-tier ad agencies, the parent ad organizations have generally boosted the size and scope of these megamedia houses through acquisition and consolidation.

These ad organizations have thinned the ranks of the independent media companies: KSL Media, R.J. Palmer Inc., DeWitt Media, Clifford A. Botway Inc. and CPM Media collectively are moving $2.4 billion-plus media billings into the ad organizations that bought them in the past year.


Real media billings among the top 30 media specialist companies reached $55.8 billion in the U.S., up a phenomenal 27.4%. Worldwide, this group hit $148.7 billion in billings, up 23.8%. There are few media specialist companies of any size beneath the top 30.

Agencies reported media billings of $60.6 billion, up 8.3%, in the U.S., including AOR accounts that passed through media-buying companies of $28.5 billion, and media they billed themselves of $32.1 billion.

Collectively, these media specialists slightly increased their percentage of business handled directly with the client to 49.6% compared with 49.3% in 1998. Basically, this means the unbundled media specialist companies, which are dominant on the list, are broadening their client base, albeit slightly, beyond the growing list of agency-of-record clients of their dedicated agencies.

Put another way, agencies remain the main source of client billings for media specialist companies. U.S. agencies in this report delivered $28.5 billion in billings in 1999, up 26.7%, to these media specialist, a little over half the total business of these companies.

The $28.5 billion figure was reported by the media specialists based on the amount of billings coming from agencies. (Agencies and a media company's own clients are the billings sources for media-buying shops). By extrapolation, agency media departments bought $32.1 billion in media themselves, and media specialists $55.8 billion for a total of $87.9 billion in media.


Network TV took media honors for media companies at $15.6 billion, up 15.1%, and $14.6 billion for agencies, up 4.5%. It can be assumed that most agency network TV was handed to the media companies, as was buying for spot TV and network and spot cable, and to a lesser extent, radio. Magazines and newspapers remained the province of agencies.

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