Omnicom and Publicis go big to go small, digitally

French advertising group Publicis President Maurice Levy speaks during the general assembly of the company on May 29, 2013 in Paris.

Two of the Big-Six are about to become one in the global advertising biz. Publicis of Paris and Omnicom of New York have announced a plan to merge. The new company would be worth $35 billion, with about 130,000 employees -- assuming regulators in the U.S. and Europe give their thumbs-up.

It’s a marriage of Madison Avenue and the Champs-Élysées -- very chi-chi. And also very big -- comprising 20 percent of global ad spending and 40 percent in the U.S. More than extending global branding power, though, this is about competing in the new digital media landscape.

“TV advertising isn’t going away. It might be shifting screens," says Tony Kelso who teaches advertising at Iona College. He says brands like Coke still want the blockbuster Super Bowl ad. But they also want their ad firms to use big data to get right in front of consumers when they surf the web or walk around geo-locating on smartphones.

Google and Facebook have figured this out. So this is a case of Madison Avenue trying to catch up with Silicon Valley, trying to use their size and reach to deliver small targeted markets to advertisers in real time.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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