LONDON (Reuters) – WPP, the world’s largest advertising group, launched a new $1.1 billion share buyback for 2022 after strong client demand helped it to surpass recently upgraded forecasts during an “outstanding” year.

The owner of the Ogilvy, Grey and GroupM agencies said its main net sales metric – like-for-like revenue less pass-through costs – had risen by 12.1% in 2021, compared to an October forecast of 11.5% to 12%.

For 2022 it forecast growth of around 5%.

Advertising holding companies such as WPP, Omnicom Publicis and IPG have been in the vanguard of a corporate recovery from the pandemic as clients use their data, creative skills and media strategy advice to produce and place new ad campaigns.

Additional non-communication work has also helped pull the ad sector out of a period of stagnation that pre-dated the pandemic, as clients increasingly use them to build e-commerce platforms or digitise their businesses.

“We look forward to 2022 with confidence,” Chief Executive Mark Read said. “We are guiding to strong top-line growth, improving profitability and continued investment in our people and services.”

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by William Schomberg)