Publicis Groupe slows its declines in Q3

The holding company is confident in its resilience after capturing business from client shifts to digital media, ecommerce and DTC.
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Publicis Groupe is not out of the woods just yet when it comes to the massive impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on its business, but it is getting some confidence from the fact that it’s been able to pivot alongside its clients.

The holding company reported an organic growth decline of 5.6% for the three months ending on Sept. 30. That comes after a 13% decline in Q2, bringing declines in organic growth to 7.2% for the first nine months of 2020.

Arthur Sadoun, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, noted in a release accompanying the results that the number is ahead of forecasts that predicted ad spend to dip by roughly 10% in Q3, something he said offers assurance that the company has “strong foundations to weather these unprecedented times.”

Though not disclosing more detailed numbers, Canada was listed among the countries that had between 10% and 20% declines in organic growth, alongside countries like Brazil, France, Japan and the U.K. However, organic growth in the U.S. – which represents 60% of the company’s net revenue – was down by only 2.4%, leading to North America being the company’s best-performing region in Q3, with organic revenue down by only 3%.

While there have been significant declines in many areas of business, Sadoun said Publicis has been able to capture at least part of its clients’ shifting investment to more digital, ecommerce and direct to consumer channels. The company cited digital division Publicis.Sapient and data arm Epsilon as being particularly helpful in this regard, but it also says Publicis Health, programmatic media and production were strong in several regions.

Publicis Groupe’s companies also include Leo Burnett, Publicis Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi, North Strategic, MSLGroup, Starcom and Spark Foundry.

Sadoun also said that while the company expects the positive trend in its business to continue to the end of the year, he cautioned that the resurgence of the pandemic in many markets and re-implementation of business restrictions could have an impact and lead to results that are lower than Q3.