This seems similar to the controversial strategy behind WPP’s trading unit, Xaxis, though Omnicom CEO John Wren swiftly pointed out differences.
“In our case it’s opt-in,” he said. “Its not all of our clients, it’s only those clients who choose to participate. At this point it’s early days and this business isn’t fully developed. I don’t know that you can draw a straight line and compare all the groups at this moment.”
While Wren was happy with his company’s earnings, his counterpart at Publicis Groupe was not.
"These figures are not satisfactory by our standards," Publicis CEO Maurice Lévy said during the company's earnings call. "They are not consistent with what our operations can achieve."
Analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group said Publicis' earnings were worse than expected, calling the results primarily company-specific. "While a soft top-line was not surprising," he wrote in a research note, "weak margins were more so."
Moving forward, Lévy said that the company's digital growth (+8.8% for Q2 2014) proved that its strategy is "spot-on," and said that the company would focus on controlling costs in an attempt to achieve improved margins for the full year.
Did Omnicom’s quarterly victory come at all at Publicis’ expense?
"While we've won a lot of business this quarter, I don’t believe Publicis is where we got it from," Wren said. "Our wins really come from Interpublic and from WPP.”
Omnicom said the company was on track to meet its revenue goals and target margins by the end of the year, and Publicis also expects to rebound in the second half of 2014. But Wieser was skeptical: "Commentary around (Publicis’) 4.0% full-year organic growth goal offered what we would characterize as tepid support for the company’s goal."