WPP, which currently handles Facebook’s lucrative media planning and buying account, has pulled out of the social media’s agency review.
GroupM, WPP’s media investment management division, has opted not to compete to retain the account, leaving rivals Dentsu, Havas and Publicis Groupe vying for the contract.
Facebook’s media buying account is highly sought-after, reportedly covering ad spend of as much as $1bn.
The move will likely bring to an end the majority of GroupM’s work with Facebook through its agency Mindshare, although the group will maintain its ties through the review process.
Other WPP agencies also hold contracts with Facebook.
“We’ve partnered with Mindshare [GroupM] for global media planning and buying across our brand portfolio since 2014 and are proud of everything we’ve been able to accomplish together,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
“We’re sorry that GroupM has decided to withdraw from the RFP process, however we look forward to continuing to partner with their talented team as we move forward with our review of global media capabilities.”
One reason for GroupM’s withdrawal from the review process was Facebook’s request for strict contractual terms, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the move.
A GroupM spokesperson said: “GroupM has decided to withdraw from Facebook’s global media review. While we will not be participating in the review, we look ahead to future opportunities building on the successful work we created together since 2014.
“We are proud of the work that our teams and people have done for Facebook and wish them the very best in their media selection process.”
The decision comes amid a shift away from traditional media buying towards digital marketing — a trend that has posed a major challenge to holding groups such as WPP.
S4 Capital, the digital marketing firm set up by WPP founder Sir Martin Sorrell, counts Facebook and Google among its clients.