Sorrell Sees New Media Challenges

NEW YORK WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell said traditional media companies as well as WPP’s ad agencies are still not reacting fast enough to the rapidly shifting digital media landscape.

“I’d have to say our traditional verticals inside our business probably, like any traditional business, are slower than they should be in embracing new technology,” he said.

Sorrell was speaking at a client summit here organized by WPP search agency Outrider.

Part of the problem in the slow pace of change comes down to an older generation of leadership, the 61-year-old Sorrell said, pointing out that many WPP businesses are run by persons much like him.

“Human nature is to not embrace change,” he said.

For that reason, his top two priorities at WPP is reorienting the No. 2 holding company to capitalize on fast-growth international markets and the explosion of digital media.

Sorrell pointed to Wall Street to illustrate the uncertainty caused by the Internet’s effect on traditional media. For that reason, Google is the most highly valued media company in the world, despite having comparatively much less business than traditional media giants. “There are major shifts in media consumption that worry investors,” he said.