The Largest Advertising Companies in the World

Advertising is an incredibly lucrative industry.
Advertising is an incredibly lucrative industry.

An advertising company can be defined as a company that creates, manages, and plans all aspects of a client’s advertising. An advertising company may specialize in a specific area or can be a full-service company that offers public relation services. There are three types of advertising agencies; Above the Line, Below the Line, and Through the Line. ATL are large companies that handle prime account and create national and international advertising campaigns for the clients. BTL handle smaller media placement while THL is a blend of ABL and BTL. Here are the largest advertising companies worldwide.

Top Five Advertising Companies

WPP Group

The London based giant WPP toppled Omnicom Group in 2008 and has since become not only the largest marketing group but also the most revenue generating advertising company. It has an executive office in Dublin and owns various advertising, public relation, and media research networks. WPP owns the some of the largest marketing agencies in the world, namely Grey, JWT, Ogilvy & Mather, and Young & Rubicam. In 2016, WPP generated revenue of approximately US$19 billion and had a record 205,000 employees.

Omnicom Group

Omnicom Group is the second largest advertising company after WPP Group. The New York-based company controls several businesses including BBDO Worldwide, DDB Worldwide, and TBWA Worldwide. The three agencies have an unrivalled reputation for excellent creativity. They provide services in four main areas including advertisement, public relations, CRM, and specialty services. Omnicom employs over 75,000 employees and generated US$15 billion in 2016. Its planned merger with Publics was abandoned in 2014.

Publicis Group

The Paris based Publics Group made its way to the upper rank with strings of smart acquisitions including Leo Burnett Worldwide and Sapient Corporation. Founded in 1926, it is one of the oldest and largest marketing and communication companies in the world. It operates in over 200 cities in 105 countries. A move to merge with Omnicom Group to create the largest advertising company was abandoned in 2014. In 2016, Publics Group recorded revenue of US$9.6 billion, the third highest after WPP and Omnicom.

Interpublic Group

Although the New York-based Interpublic Group struggled through series of challenges in the 2000s, it still remains one of the big four international advertising companies. It consists of three main networks including McCann Worldgroup, FCB, and Lowe & Partners. Interpublic Group employs about 50,000 employees and recorded revenue of US$7.6 billion in 2015.


Dentsu of Japan dominates its local market more than any other advertising company. However, its popularity outside Asia was limited until recently. It operates in 145 countries and employs approximately 45,000 employees. In 2011, the company formed a partnership with Facebook to help in developing Facebook pages and ads. Facebook provides Dentsu with a premium advertising space.

Challenges Faced by Top Advertising Companies

Although the above five advertising and marketing groups have consistently dominated the advertising industry, they have faced new challengers for the global advertising budget with the new companies and consultancies expanding into digital marketing. Consumer groups are also rethinking their marketing spending with the companies. The emergence of Facebook and Google has been considered a threat to several marketing companies. The two have become a “digital duopoly” accounting for 60% of global digital market ads.

The Largest Advertising Companies in the World

RankAgency NameHeadquarters Worldwide Revenue (Billions)
1WPP GroupLondon19
2Omnicom GroupNew York15.3
3Publicis GroupeParis9.6
4Interpublic GroupNew York7.5
5Dentsu Tokyo6

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