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Publicis to reveal Google news by summer

PARIS (Reuters) - Maurice Levy, chairman and chief executive of Publicis PUBP.PA, said the world's fourth-largest advertising group hoped to give more details about its cooperation with Web search engine Google GOOG.O by the summer.

Publicis CEO Maurice Levy addresses the Reuters Technology summit in Paris May 20, 2008. REUTERS/Mal Langsdon

Levy also told the Reuters Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in Paris on Tuesday that he was “rather optimistic” about growth prospects for Publicis this year.

“It will be a much better year than anticipated by some analysts and much better than last year,” he said.

Publicis, owner of the Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett networks, had seen a “very good trend” in new business in the first quarter and prospects for the second quarter were “quite good”, he said.

Levy repeated that the second quarter of 2008 would show much better growth than the year-ago period, which he said was “terrible”.

Publicis, which expects 2008 to be boosted by the Beijing Olympics, has not seen any signs yet that its clients were changing their advertising plans amid intense international attention over the human rights situation in China, he said.

In January, Publicis and Google revealed they were combining their expertise to expand in the fast-growing digital advertising market.

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However, the pair did not give much detail, only saying that Google would exchange its technological know-how for Publicis’s analytical and media planning expertise.

“We will develop new areas of cooperation,” Levy said on Tuesday.

When asked when Publicis could provide more details on the planned cooperation, Levy said: “We hope to do that by the summer.”

Publicis and Google disclosed they were cooperating in the digital sector one year after Publicis scooped up Internet ad agency Digitas for $1.3 billion.

The news also followed a buying spree last year which saw Internet and technology powerhouses such as Google, Yahoo YHOO.O and Microsoft MSFT.O snap up several leading Internet ad agencies.

Collaboration with Google also reflects Levy’s view of Internet heavyweights as partners.

"We don't see them as enemies but like CBS, TF1 TFFP.PA or CNN...," he said.

When Publicis announced it planned to cooperate with Google, the head of British rival WPP WPP.L, Martin Sorrell, said Publicis was revealing a weakness through the deal.

But earlier this month, Yahoo struck an advertising partnership deal with WPP that will let WPP buy ads on Yahoo’s online ad exchange.

Asked to comment on that deal, Levy said: “How weak he (must) be to make that agreement!”

(For summit blog: summitnotebook.reuters.com/)

Editing by James Regan

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