Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements
(Amounts in Millions, Except Per Share Amounts)
Note 1: Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. and subsidiaries (the “Company,” “IPG,” “we,” “us” or “our”) is one of the world’s premier global advertising and marketing services companies. Our agencies create customized marketing programs for clients that range in scale from large global marketers to regional and local clients. Comprehensive global services are critical to effectively serve our multinational and local clients in markets throughout the world, as they seek to build brands, increase sales of their products and services and gain market share in an increasingly complex and fragmented media landscape.
Principles of Consolidation
The Consolidated Financial Statements include the accounts of the Company and its consolidated subsidiaries, some of which are not wholly owned. Investments in companies over which we do not have control, but have the ability to exercise significant influence, are accounted for using the equity method of accounting. Investments in companies over which we have neither control nor have the ability to exercise significant influence are accounted for under the cost method. All intercompany accounts and transactions have been eliminated in consolidation.
We have consolidated certain entities meeting the definition of variable interest entities, and the inclusion of these entities does not have a material impact on our Consolidated Financial Statements.
Certain reclassifications have been made to the prior period financial statements to conform to the current-year presentation.
Use of Estimates
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (“U.S. GAAP”) requires us to make judgments, assumptions and estimates that affect the amounts of assets and liabilities, the disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the reporting date and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ from these estimates and assumptions.
Our revenues are primarily derived from the planning and execution of multi-channel advertising, marketing and communications programs around the world. Our revenues are directly dependent upon the advertising, marketing and corporate communications requirements of our existing clients and our ability to win new clients. Our revenue is typically lowest in the first quarter and highest in the fourth quarter. This reflects the seasonal spending of our clients, incentives earned at year end on various contracts and project work that is typically completed during the fourth quarter.
Most of our client contracts are individually negotiated and, accordingly, the terms of client engagements and the bases on which we earn commissions and fees vary significantly. As is customary in the industry, our contracts generally provide for termination by either party on relatively short notice, usually 90 days.
Our client contracts are complex arrangements that may include provisions for incentive compensation and vendor rebates and credits. Our largest clients are multinational entities and, as such, we often provide services to these clients out of multiple offices and across many of our agencies. In arranging for such services, it is possible that we will enter into global, regional and local agreements. Agreements of this nature are reviewed by legal counsel to determine the governing terms to be followed by the offices and agencies involved.
Revenue for our services is recognized when all of the following criteria are satisfied: (i) persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists; (ii) the price is fixed or determinable; (iii) collectability is reasonably assured; and (iv) services have been performed. Depending on the terms of a client contract, fees for services performed can be recognized in three principal ways: proportional performance (input or output), straight-line (or monthly basis) or completed contract.
Fees are generally recognized as earned based on the proportional performance input method of revenue recognition in situations where our fee is reconcilable to the actual hours incurred to service the client as detailed in a contractual staffing plan, where the fee is earned on a per hour basis or where actual hours incurred are provided to the client on a periodic basis (whether or not the fee is reconcilable), with the amount of revenue recognized in these situations limited to the amount realizable under the client contract. We believe an input-based measure (the ‘hour’) is appropriate in situations where the client arrangement essentially functions as a time and out-of-pocket expense contract and the client receives the benefit of the services provided throughout the contract term.