WPP's direct, digital business reports first-half growth

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WPP Group reported $7.62 billion in first-half 2011 revenue, a 12.8% increase compared with the prior year.

The Dublin-based holding company's branding and identity, healthcare and specialty communications business grew by 5.7% year-over-year in the quarter to $1.93 billion. The segment includes WPP's direct, digital and interactive agencies, such as Wunderman, OgilvyOne and VML.

Direct- and digital-related work contributed $2.1 billion in first-half revenue, accounting for 28.1% of the period's total earnings. The company said it plans for the segment to account for 35% to 40% of its business “in three to four years.”

North American revenue grew by 2.3% year-over-year to $2.7 billion in the first six months of the year. WPP drew 35.6% of total revenue from the region in the period.

The holding company's net profit grew by 43.9% to $431 million, beating analysts' expectations, according to Bloomberg.

WPP's advertising and media investment-management business earned $3.16 billion in first-half revenue, up 10.4% compared with the prior year, as well as $1.4 billion in net new business billings. WPP estimated it recorded $1.92 billion in total net new business billings in the first half of the year.

WPP did not disclose its second-quarter earnings, but it said that, excluding the impact of acquisitions and currency, revenue in the period grew by 5.6% year-over-year. WPP reported $903.6 million in first-quarter revenue on April 28.

WPP had 110,357 employees at the June 30 end of the second quarter, a 4.7% increase year-over-year.

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