Few people have a much better overview of the tech economy than Sir Martin Sorrell, the co-founder and longtime CEO of the world’s largest advertising company, WPP.
Together with WPP’s over 200,000 employees and a $75 billion media publication, Sir Martin includes a uniquely privileged insight into the future of the online marketing market. And he considers 2018 might be the year that a third company joins what he calls the Facebook/Google “duopoly” in internet marketing and search.
That company is, of course, Amazon he describes, cutely, as an “up and comer” in internet advertising. Along with being an commerce and internet services leviathan, Sir Martin predicts, Bezos’ beast is going to turn into a marketing and search company.
Not that Sir Martin is composing either Facebook or, particularly, Google. Indeed, he boldly suggests that Google might have a very clear lead in autonomous automobiles. And he’s optimistic about all of the world’s seven leading tech company (the Frightful Five and Alibaba and Tencent) — who he collectively calls the “seven sisters”- in terms of their development of AI. But here he’s particularly bullish on Amazon’s Alexa that, he believes, is winning at the voice-activation device war by “carpet-bombing” its competitions.
Over the years, Sir Martin has consistently argued that the large tech companies should have the same duties and accountability as traditional media companies. So will 2018 be the year that the worm finally turns and the Frightful Five eventually admit they are networking firms? Sir Martin believes that this might have actually happened in 2017 — mentioning Facebook’s decision last year to use 20,000 editors to track its videos.
And in 2018, he suggests they’ll come to behave increasingly like traditional media firms. And perhaps nobody should listen more carefully to this information that Jeff Bezos, that Sir Martin describes as the “John D. Rockefeller” of the 21st century.