One of my favorite unconferences is the European edition of Stream, the WPP/Yossi Vardi hosted extravaganza held annually just outside Athens. Last year, I interviewed Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP’s ebullient CEO, about the global advertising economy. And this year, I had the good fortune to sit down with Mark Read, the CEO of WPP Digital, to talk more specifically about the company’s digital strategy. Read stressed to me the importance of digital inside the WPP empire, explaining that it currently represented 32% of the company’s $17 billion annual revenue, thereby making it the seventh largest digital media company in the world. And this will only grow in the future, Read told me, so that in ten years time “everything will be digital.”
For some entrepreneurs, WPP Digital may be the largest digital company you’ve never heard of. But my advice to the start-up community is to pay very careful attention to both Mark Read and his ever-expanding division. Note Read’s bullishness on Twitter, listen to his wisdom about mobile and take special note of what I think is WPP’s more conciliatory attitude to Google. Most of all, email Mark (email@example.com) and tell him why you should be invited to Stream. It really is an amazing event.