Advertising agencies are everywhere, there is no escaping them. But who’s the daddy of the advertising world? The mother of all ad agencies?
According to wikipedia, WPP is the “world’s largest advertising group by revenues”. This is hogwash. Some of the world’s largest ad agences are technology companies. For example, in descending order of revenue:
- Google Inc. is an advertising agency with a sideline in search technology. Current revenue $38,000 million*
- WPP plc. is an advertising agency with a sideline in, …erm, advertising. Current revenue $15,000 million*
- Facebook Inc. is an advertising agency with a sideline in social networking. Current revenue: ~$4,000 million but watch this space
- LinkedIn Inc. is an advertising agency with a sideline in business networking. Current revenue $243 million*
- Twitter Inc. is an advertising agency with a sideline in social networking. Current revenue: $140 million*
So Google Inc. is currently the world’s largest advertising agency by revenues, followed by WPP then possibly Facebook. It will be interesting to see if the “best minds” [1,2] on Planet Facebook can catch up with WPP and Google by encouraging it’s user’s to click on ads more and buy more stuff in their store.
“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click on ads. That sucks.” — Jeff Hammerbacher 
- Ashlee Vance (2011) This Tech Bubble Is Different Bloomberg Business Week
- Bruce Robinson (1989) How to Get Ahead in Advertising Handmade Films
* Revenue figures from wikipedia. Can’t really vouch for their accuracy but they look reasonable.