Friday, August 31, 2012
The mysterious case of the disappearing competitor: Focus Media edition
JCDecaux - the French multinational giant - is the largest display advertising company in the world. They also claim in their latest annual report to be the largest display advertising business in China.
Every year they publish in their annual report a list of the largest display advertising businesses in the world - their competitors.
Here is that list from the 2007 annual report :
On this list, Focus Media is the 8th largest company in the world in this space.
And here is the list from the 2008 annual report:
Again we see Focus Media - now the sixth largest display advertising company in the world.
Here is the 2009 list:
Peculiarly Focus Media is nowhere to be seen on this list (by the end of 2009 it should have risen to fifth place).
Focus Media is no longer mentioned in JCDecaux's 2010 and 2011 accounts.
Well I can think of two hypotheses:
The first is that JCDecaux want to sustain their claim of being the biggest display advertising business in China - a claim that is simply not tenable if they include Focus Media in the comparison. Moreover they don't want to increase the credibility with advertisers of Focus Media and its products. After all Focus Media has substantially outperformed JCDecaux in China - growing much faster and at much fatter margins.
An alternative hypothesis is that they don't believe Focus Media's numbers.
PS. I first found these lists when researching China Media Express. CCME supposedly competed with JCDecaux in placing adverts on public transport (in CCME's case mostly buses including airport buses). CCME however was a complete fraud and the stock now trades at 2c. Focus Media is obviously real - their displays are widespread.
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