Publicis CEO talks merger & future of advertising at CES

Merge lanes road sign

Maurice Levy is about to run the world's new largest advertising agency.

The CEO of Publicis Groupe revealed that the approval process for its proposed merger with Omnicom is progressing faster than expected and he doesn't "see anything getting in the way."

Levy said he expects good news from the European Union, perhaps by the end of this week. He also noted that Chinese regulators have accepted the next stage of the proposed merger's regulatory process. While he conceded that "we have a long process ahead," Levy said he's "confident" the deal will be approved.

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The CEO discussed his and Omnicom's future from CES, where Levy had a packed schedule of meetings with his agencies' brands, tech companies, and an on-stage interview with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, moderated by MediaLink CEO Michael Kassaon.

Levy said that being at CES and understanding where consumer habits and technology are headed, is "extremely important to help brands and advertisers connect," noting that "everything has an impact on the consumer, from new devices and technology." Levy said he always strives to be first at innovating: "that's why we have made agreements with Twitter, Google, [and] Facebook."

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Nearly forty percent of Publicis' revenue comes from digital, Levy boasted, a trend that he said is only going to accelerate, noting Publicis' StarcomMediavest Group's deal with Twitter is "going extremely well," he said.

But Levy didn't pick favorites, stressing that every type of medium is different and can serve a different purpose for marketers. Twitter plays the role of "an accelerator of information,"Facebook plays the role of managing "long-term personal relationships," while Google is valuable in a whole different way, he said.

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Where are Publicis' brands looking to grow their presence? "We are moving money to Spotify" Levy said, adding that his brands are also increasingly working with LinkedIn.

And while Levy said "we're at the beginning of a huge transformation," when it comes to advertising's digital shift, he still values the most traditional medium. He praised the power of TV ads to reach consumers at scale, and said he's hopeful that the print ad businesses will rebound with publications moving more onto the Internet.

-By CNBC's Julia Boorstin. Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin .

image: © Matthew Hine

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