As Snap shines in IPO, the CEO of world’s largest ad agency sees start of a social media war

Snap entering social media war with Facebook: WPP CEO

Despite Snap still in its relative infancy, the CEO of the world's largest advertising agency has told CNBC the tech company has entered a fierce race for revenue against major rivals like Google and Facebook.

"If you look at the competitive reaction, if you look at Facebook's reaction in terms of copying or imitating a lot of the features that Snapchat has, that's indicative of the issues that Facebook faces in relation to Snap and its growth," Martin Sorrell, the chief executive officer of WPP said Friday.

He added that whereas Google's direct competitor is more Amazon, Facebook's is now Snap - the parent company for social media platform Snapchat.

"So you have a search war developing between Amazon and Google and you have a social media war, if I can put it that way, or market share war between Facebook and Snap," Sorrell said.

A woman stands in front of the logo of Snap Inc. on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) while waiting for Snap Inc. to post their IPO, in New York City.
Lucas Jackson | Reuters

Snap had its initial public offering debut on Thursday and saw its stock rise more than 40 percent, pushing it well above the $17 a share it priced its IPO. However, when looking at digital advertising, Facebook and Google are the two big names in the market.

Sorrell explained that out of the $75 billion that his company spends on media bookings, about $90 million went into Snap. Snap's revenues in 2016 were reportedly around $400 million with Sorrell suggesting the company was targeting about $1.25 billion for this year.

"We'll see how far they go, that pales into relative insignificance to Google," he said.

"Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising. They own about 75 percent of the market. And they get about 100 percent of incremental spend at the moment," Sorrell noted. "What our clients want and what our agencies and indeed our competitors' agencies want is more competition in the market place," he told CNBC.

WPP posted its 2016 earnings on Friday with like-for-like revenue growth of around 3 percent. However, it also gave a conservative outlook for 2017 "given continued tepid economic growth."

-CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.

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