French advertising and PR firm Publicis Groupe has posted consolidated revenue of $9.6 billion for 2014, signalling growth of 4.3% compared to the 12 months before.

The company’s annual balance-sheet review was aided by organic growth of 3.2% in Q4 as earnings from the group’s digital businesses, conducted through properties such as agency powerhouse DigitasLBi and programmatic ad firm VivaKi, contributed 42% to the annual total. 

While the readings supported the company’s predictions of ‘satisfactory’ growth for last year, Publicis CEO Maurice Levy said his firm had been forced to weather through a period with “some difficulties”. 

Levy said Publicis could now look ahead to a positive 2015 and the integration of new purchases like marketing and consulting firm Sapient after a $3.7 billion acquisition was announced last week.

Emerging markets

Publicis Groupe’s organic growth for the full year ending December 2014 levelled out at a modest 2%, although Levy took plenty of optimism from the company’s performance in Q4. 

The final quarter of last year saw the company report year-on-year growth of 3.2% in revenue, supported by strong performances in Russia (8.5%), Brazil (7.0%) and India (30%).

Business in Europe represented a more patchy affair, with established markets such as Germany (2.1%) and Turkey (4.0%) only seeing a slight pick up. 

Revenue in France and the UK went the opposite way, declining by 1.2% and 7.4% respectively. 

Burying the past

The unwelcomed situation across Europe has been attributed partly to a general drop in business generated by ‘traditional’ offerings, which dipped 1.4% over the year compared to 2013.   

Publicis Groupe also went into detail regarding properties that may not be pulling their weight. 

“This weak level of growth was mainly due to poor performance in Europe, temporary problems that affected Razorfish in the US and in the UK, and a slight tailing off of performance at MSLGroup,” the firm added.

Levy appeared happy to field questions on peaks and troughs during a conference call announcing revenue, although the CEO was a little more hesitant in responding to questions regarding Publicis Groupe’s failed merger with agency rival Omnicom.

Keen to put events of the failed $35 billion deal behind him, Levy insisted: “What really matters is not so much what happened, as what is about to happen.”