WPP Group unveils plans to invest $314-million in AI this year

By our African Marketing Confederation News Team | 2024

CEO of the global advertising and communications giant says AI is set to enhance, not replace, human creativity.

UK-based WPP, the multinational communications and advertising firm, has announced plans to invest US$314-million in artificial intelligence (AI) during 2024. 


The group has already made several investments in the field, having acquired European-based AI specialist Satalia in 2021, and formed partnerships with the likes of Adobe, Google, IBM, Microsoft and OpenAI. 


Photo by Tara Winstead via Pexels

WPP also aims to expand the reach of artificial intelligence tools through WPP Open, a business platform used to share data across the company. 


“AI is transforming our industry and we see it as an opportunity not a threat,” says Mark Read, CEO of WPP. 


“We firmly believe that AI will enhance, not replace, human creativity. We are already empowering our people with AI-based tools to augment their skills, produce work more efficiently and improve media performance, all of which will increase the effectiveness of our work.  


“We also see opportunities to sell new AI-driven products and services to our clients and to capture more growth in areas like production.” 


Speaking at the time of the Satalia acquisition in 2021, Read said: “Advances in technology are revolutionising how people live, work and shop, how brands go to market, and how products and services are delivered.  


“Clients are looking for end-to-end solutions that harness these technologies to grow their business.” 


WPP expects revenue growth of under 1% 


In addition to announcing the AI investment, WPP pre-released its 2023 earnings, with full results due for release in mid-February. The company expects to report 2023 revenue growth of 0.9%. 


“While we had to navigate a more challenging environment in 2023, we see strong future demand for our services and are confident we can accelerate our growth over the medium-term,” Read says. 


As part of a cost-savings drive, WPP merged the advertising agencies Wunderman Thompson and VMLY&R in late 2023 to form a new business, VML. 


More recently, it merged its public relations agencies, Hill & Knowlton and BCW, to form a new PR business called Burson. It has 6,000 staff in 43 markets. 


WPP likes to call itself a “creative transformation company”. The businesses within its portfolio also include creative agency Ogilvy and media planner GroupM. 

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.