Few individuals have a better overview of the technology economy than Sir Martin Sorrell, the co-founder and longtime CEO of the world’s biggest advertising company, WPP.
Together with WPP’s over 200,000 employees and a $75 billion press book, Sir Martin has a uniquely privileged insight into the future of the internet marketing industry. And he considers that 2018 could be the year that a third company unites what he requires the Facebook/Google “duopoly” in internet marketing and search.
That company is, of course, Amazon which he explains, cutely, as an “up and comer” in online advertising. Along with being an commerce and internet services leviathan, Sir Martin forecasts, Bezos’ beast is about to become a marketing and search company.
Not that Sir Martin is composing Facebook or, especially, Google. Really, he boldly suggests that Google could have a very clear lead in autonomous automobiles. And he’s optimistic about all the planet’s seven dominant tech company (the Frightful Five plus Alibaba and Tencent) — who he calls the “seven sisters”- in terms of their development of AI. But even here he is particularly bullish on Amazon’s Alexa that, he believes, is winning in the voice-activation device warfare by “carpet-bombing” its competitions.
Over the years, Sir Martin has always contended that the big tech firms should have the very same duties and accountability as traditional media firms. So will 2018 be the year the pig finally turns along with the Frightful Five eventually admit they are networking companies? Sir Martin believes this could have really happened in 2017 — mentioning Facebook’s decision last year to use 20,000 editors to monitor its own videos.
And in 2018 he proposes, they’ll come to behave more and more like traditional media companies. With good power, he reminds us, comes great responsibility. And nobody should listen carefully to this advice that Jeff Bezos, that Sir Martin explains as the “John D. Rockefeller” of the 21st century.