Publicis Groupe, once again, is the early leader in the ad holding group performance stakes (although thiese days it looks as much like a tech company),reporting half year organic growth of 7.1%, ahead of US rival Omnicom which came in at 3.4%.

Earnings before tax and exceptional items came in up 3.7% to €1.33bn on net revenue of 6.32 billion. Publicis says one third of its revenue now comes from data businesses Epsilon snd Publicis Sapient, likely at a higher margin that ad businesses Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis itself and its extensive media agency line-up. Publicis is forecasting 5% growth for the year.

CEO Arthur Sadoun says: “With our investments in Epsilon, powering creative and media through personalisation at scale, Sapient and Marcel, we are uniquely positioned to lead the future of our industry. It will inevitably be shaped by data, tech and AI that are already at the heart of our business model both in how we work for our clients and in the way we operate.”

Omnicom’s numbers were hit by a slowdown among big-spending tech clients (Amazon is now reckoned to be the world’s top ad spender.) CEO John Wren also raised the likelihood of redundancies as the dreaded AI made inroads into the way holding companies operate, saying that: “We’re responding with AI as if our hair were on fire.” Omnicon grew 2.5% in the UK.

Publicis is now comfortably the most valuable ad holding company according to investors, worth €18.68bn ($20.9bn), down slightly. After hefty rises the share price indicates that markets think it and its peers will struggle for noteworthy growth during the remainder of 2023.


Publicis shares were trading up 2.8% at mid-day.