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'Facebook, Twitter, Google: Ad companies masquerading as tech ones'

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The boss of Britain's largest advertising company has slammed Google, Facebook and Twitter for being "media owners masquerading as tech companies".

Speaking at the FT Digital Media Conference in London today, Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, said his company spent $2bn on buying advertising from Google last year, up 25 per cent from the previous year.

In 2012, Sorrell's firm spent some $500m of its clients' money on buying advertising from AOL/Yahoo!, $200m on Facebook and a "very much smaller amount" on Twitter.

These figures are only likely to increase, he said, predicting that by 2014 WPP will spend more on buying Google advertising than it currently does on purchasing space from Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

Of WPP's $73bn annual advertising spend, News Corporation gets $2.5bn, more than any other company.

Sorrell said:

"I do regard Google as a media owner, yes. These are media owners masquerading as technology companies. Google sells Google, Facebook sells Facebook. Twitter sells Twitter."

"If I was going to invest money in all these stocks where would I invest my money? Google and Amazon. If buying for my grandkids that is where I would put it."

Discussing the US market, which accounts for $40bn of WPP's spending, he said advertisers were spending too much cash on print advertising. Customers spend just 7 to 10 per cent of their time reading newspapers and magazines, but WPP still spends 20 per cent of its clients' advertising budget on print.

He said consumers spend a third of their time online, but advertising spend is just 20 per cent. ®

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