WPP is looking to increase its spending on Facebook advertising from around $200 million in 2011 to around $400 million in 2012, according to WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell, who made the forecast during a dual interview with Microsoft partner architect Jaron Lanier at the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ “Transformation” conference in Los Angeles Tuesday morning. But Sorrell added that the question of measurement is becoming more and more pressing for social media.
Sorrell contrasted the 2012 forecast for Facebook ad spending to WPP’s predicted spending on Google, at around $2 billion, and News Corp., at around $2.5 billion. The figure reflects the growing interest in social media in general and Facebook in particular — and Sorrell paid tribute to the huge power of social media, including “the change in the balance of power to the consumers, to the people,” among an array of other “political, social and economic benefits.”
But the WPP boss also pointed to the limitations holding back social media spending. “The clients are starting to question the measurement issue,” Sorrell warned, adding: “The area is a very sexy area, and clients have gone in almost willy-nilly, because it is fashionable to do so. The investments have reached a scale where procurement departments, finance departments are increasingly looking at those investments.”
Here Sorrell touched on the continuing debate over measuring ROI, which he said will be key to coordinating social media with other media, both traditional and digital: “There has to be someone who interprets and analyzes the balance between these channels… [and] it has to be an integrated whole.”
Towards that end, Sorrell also staked out a strong position on where responsibility for analytics should lie, at least in his own businesses: “We don’t want to stand on the shoulders of [tech providers]… The application of technology and data analytics are a core part of our strategy… [and] we want to stand on our own two feet.”