Ipsos in 2015 - Some positives, some negatives
Paris, 17 February 2016 – Ipsos recorded revenue of €524.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, an increase of 4.7% compared with the same quarter in 2014. At constant exchange rates and scope of consolidation, revenue was down 1%, a slightly better performance than in the third quarter (-2%), and equivalent to the full-year performance in 2015 (-1%).
Over the full year in 2015, Ipsos recorded revenue of €1,785.3 million, an increase of 6.9%. Currency effects were positive throughout the year, and boosted revenue by 7.3% overall. Scope effects, stemming notably from the consolidation of RDA Group as of 1 July 2015, had a further positive impact of 0.6%.
Ipsos’ overall revenue was nevertheless below expectations, due chiefly to the persistent weakness of its business in emerging markets and at Ipsos Connect.
OUTLOOK FOR 2016
It would be of little value to itemise the complete list of conflicts, uncertainties, anxieties and crises affecting people, businesses and institutions.
Last year, we wrote that the period was “complex”. To be perfectly clear, we are experiencing a period of intense transformation where there are more questions than answers; where the factors of division and fragmentation are more powerful than the forces of unity; where fears are little attenuated by reasons for hope; and where, ultimately, the unpredictability of opinions, markets and behaviour is only matched by the abundance of such diverse, distinctive and, naturally, contradictory data that the narrator often loses the thread of the narrative.
Profusion rhymes with confusion. This is where the research industry – and Ipsos within it – is facing its greatest challenge, and, naturally, its greatest opportunity. The services Ipsos offers its clients are being transformed, because customer demand itself has been transformed. The aim as ever is to produce reliable data – data that, by virtue of its fairness, pertinence, consistency and comparability over time and between markets, can serve as a foundation. It is also necessary for data to be easier to grasp and for it to be communicated more swiftly. Ipsos already excels in this respect, and it will lift its game even further going forward, as its plans to improve its operational efficiency are deployed. But this will not be not enough. We can no longer be content simply to pile data on more data, we must aim first and foremost to help our clients operate more efficiently by increasing the usefulness of data and by significantly improving our clients’ usage of data.
The New Way programme was designed to meet this objective. It assumes that Ipsos will profoundly change its services, the ways it works with its clients and its operational capacities. Ipsos is now primed to work better, more simply and more quickly. Ipsos has also begun to reinforce its capacity to better observe behaviour, to better analyse gargantuan behavioural databases, to accurately track what is being said on social networks and what is being done on e-commerce websites, and how customer reactions – informed by their experience of the products or services they select – are understood.
Eighteen months after its launch, the New Way programme has enabled Ipsos to record its first successes. Seventeen new services have been developed and at least partially rolled out. They represented 7% of revenue in 2014, and 9% in 2015 after organic growth of 20%. They are seen growing strongly again in 2016, and support Ipsos’ prospects of a return to growth.
Ipsos, which doubtless has a better grasp today of the needs of its market and the role it wishes to play, can now increase the pace. Spending devoted to the New Way programme, the development of related services and technology solutions, the reinforcement of teams and the marketing of our new offer, will further increase to nearly €10 million in 2016.
We expect an improvement across all of our business lines and geographies. On a comparable basis, Ipsos’ revenue is expected to grow in 2016, while the margin is expected to stabilise at the levels recorded in 2015.
The volume of free cash flow will remain significant, allowing Ipsos to pursue very targeted acquisitions, such as the acquisition of RDA in the area of quality measurement in 2015.