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paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies

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14. Dentsu

Advertising, Japan (Public)

Last year’s rank: N/A

Photo: Shutterstock / Paveonephoto

Digital Content Revenue

$2,891,558,218 (12% of total)

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Digital Snapshot

As well as its own activities selling digital ads within its multi-media group, 20,000-employee behemoth Dentsu is Facebook’s official ad sales partner in Japan, with exclusive rights to create Facebook Pages for brands. It also sells and creates iAds in the country through a special Apple relationship.

Key Move

Buying Aegis Media, which owns the digital-focused agencies iProspect and Isobar, for £3.2 billion (20 times earnings) is designed to grow Dentsu’s footprint outside Japan and in digital. That followed the creation of a Singapore digital agency, Dentsu Mobius.

Our Methodology

AdAge in 2009 estimated Dentsu’s 2008 digital revenue at 6.8 percent of total. Then, in Apr 2011 it reported: “At McGarryBowen, an ad agency owned by Dentsu Inc., digital accounted for an estimated 24% of 2010 revenue, up from 20% in 2009.” Also based on rival agencies’ disclosures, we directionally estimate Dentsu now is making around 12 percent of its disclosed revenue (¥1893055000000) from digital.

Source: AdAge estimate and report

— RA

21 Responses to “paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies”

  1. Good Job Mr. Robert

    I am a freelancing SEO and SMM professional. The recent update of google penguin and panda has changed the SEO pattern radically.

    And google has done this algorithm change to spread their digital ads business nothing than this.

    I really hate this because, making loss to others for their own profit is a Digital Crime and Weak Business policy from my view. Check my site Arsenal Highlights

  2. ciaranj

    If you want to rank things on revenue, fine. But then don’t call it the ‘Most Succesful List’: Microsoft might ‘make’ $3.9b on digital content, but it also loses around $3b every year too.

  3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I think this is a terrific list despite any reservations some people have about the methodology. It really demonstrates the huge growth potential of digital media companies in some of the emerging markets. Also, as a scientist – I note Elsevier being top 5 in revenue (Elsevier is publisher behind many of the top scientific journals).

  4. Mindbendingpuzzles

    What about Valve and their digital games platform: Steam. I know they are a private company and figures are hard to come by but in 2011 Forbes reckoned they have more than 50% of the 4 billion dollar PC games download market. That is huge.

    I would really love to see Paid Content do some investigation on Valve because they are an incredibly innovative company who really push digital retailing to its limits.

  5. Groupon and Monster are’t really media companies. I’m not even sure that ad agencies should qualify in the same category as Viacom or Time Warner. Totally different business model.

  6. Brendan

    Why is eBay not in this list? They have an ad business on and their classified sites, and the seller fees they collect are essentially paid ads since the platform doesn’t handle the items. This list is also missing Alibaba Group from China (including Taobao), and Gree from Japan.

  7. Zato Gibson

    “Creating this list wasn’t easy.”

    I can imagine. Manipulating the numbers to get Microsoft into the top 10 must have been really tough.