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The Top Worldwide Media Planning & Media Buying Agencies in 2014

In simple terms, media agencies are the companies responsible for overseeing the delivery of advertising campaigns by deciding where ads will appear (a process known as media planning) and then negotiating over rates with mediaowners such as broadcasters and publishers (media buying). Increasingly they are also involved in related disciplines such as product placement and sponsorship. See Advertising Industry Structure for more on media agencies. The tables below are rankings for global media networks. See Adbrands' individual country pages (for example the US or UK) for rankings of top media agencies in local markets.

#1 #2
Starcom MediaVest OMD

Starcom MediaVest ranked in 2014 as the world's biggest media agency, mainly because of its dominant position in the US. However the loss of several key clients caused parent Publicis to split off Mediavest as a separate unit in 2016 and merge it with much smaller Spark. Starcom and Mediavest Spark are now two separate agencies.

OMD is the lead network within Omnicom, working closely but not exclusively with the BBDO, DDB and TBWA ad agencies. It is arguably the most innovative global network, and has topped the rankings of awards for media planning and media buying every year since 2004.

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#3 #4
ZenithOptimedia Mindshare

ZenithOptimedia was the other major media network within Publicis until 2016. Like Starcom MediaVest, it was split in two, and Optimedia merged with smaller network Blue 449. Zenith and Optimedia Blue 449 are now two separate networks. When it was created in the 1980s Zenith arguably set the template for the modern media buying agency.

Mindshare is the biggest of the four global media networks within WPP, itself the world's biggest media planner and media buying group by billings. It was created originally from the combination of the inhouse media departments of WPP's JWT and Ogilvy & Mather advertising networks.

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#5= #5=
Carat MediaCom

Carat was for most of the past 20 years the world's biggest media independent, with no direct ties to any of the major advertising networks. In 2012, it was acquired by Japanese giant Dentsu. Carat's strongest region is Europe. It is also the clear leader in Australia as a result of purchase of local unit Mitchell & Partners.

MediaCom sits just behind WPP stablemate Mindshare in the global rankings. Originally formed from the media department of the Grey advertising network, it is especially strong in Europe, and the two key markets of the UK and Germany. Indeed, in the UK, it is still the only agency ever to have topped £1bn in annual billings.

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#7 #8
MEC Global Universal McCann

MEC Global is the simplified brand adopted in 2010 by the WPP-owned agency previously known as MediaEdge: Cia. That mouthful of a name betrayed the agency's roots as the byproduct of a merger between Y&R's Media Edge unit and European independent CIA.

UM is the bigger of the two main media networks owned by Interpublic, and changed its name from Universal McCann to loosen ties to the main McCann advertising network. Recent performance has been overshadowed by the loss of several important clients.

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#9 #10
MPG Havas Media Initiative Media

Havas Media, known until 2013 as MPG, is the main network of French group Havas, and incorporates smaller satellites including Arena and Media Contacts. Its global footprint is patchy despite a dominant presence in France, Spain and much of Latin America.

Like its Interpublic stablemate, Initiative suffered a series of major account losses in the early 2000s, although performance has stablised more recently. Even so it remains the smallest of the "big ten" global media planning and media buying  networks.

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#11 #12
PHD Maxus

Omnicom's second media network has evolved since 2001 from a single office in the UK into a major worldwide network. It has enjoyed especially strong growth since 2010 as a result of a series of spectacular account wins, both in the US and worldwide. Omnicom

Maxus is the smallest of WPP's international media agencies, and also the youngest of any of the major networks, launched for the first time in 2004. Although it has a fully global footprint, it is arguably strongest in Asia, where it was originally created.

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#13 #13

Vizeum is the secondary media network created by parent Aegis, initially to resolve client conflicts within lead agency Carat. However it has evolved into a major force in its own right, especially in several European markets. Like Carat it is now owned by Dentsu.

Vizeum is the secondary media network created by parent Aegis, initially to resolve client conflicts within lead agency Carat. However it has evolved into a major force in its own right, especially in several European markets. Like Carat it is now owned by Dentsu.

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Other Agencies: #15
Naked Communications Horizon Media

Naked was a pioneer in "media neutral" planning when it originally launched, and it established a global network focused on media strategy. Life has proved more challenging since it was acquired by Australian group Enero prompting a move into creative services as well.

Operating solely in the US, privately owned Horizon Media is that country's last major independent media planning and buying agency, bigger even than the local offices of several global networks. It relies on a small portfolio of loyal and high-spending clients. 

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Assembly Empower MediaMarketing

Assembly is the main media arm of MDC Partners, formed from the merger in 2014 of acquired agencies RJ Palmer and TargetCast. It partners the group's various creative shops such as CP&B, KBS&P, Anomaly and 72andSunny.

Another of the last remaining media independents in the US, in recent years Empower has evolved from a pure-play media agency into a more diversified business which also offers a broad range of creative services, especially in the digital sector.

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Top 13 in 2014 ranked by estimated billings from RECMA 

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