The Industry Reacts to Accenture’s Move into Media Buying

25 May, 2018 

Accenture took another big step into ad agency territory this week as it launched a new digital ad buying practice, “Accenture Interactive Programmatic Services”. Accenture is one of a number of consultancies which has been moving into the ad industry, with many seeing them as challengers to the large agency holding groups.

How significant is this latest move from Accenture, and what effect might it have on the industry? VAN spoke to industry insiders to gauge their reactions.

Richard Kramer, Founder and Senior Analyst, Arete Research
I think it was inevitable that all of the IT companies that were trying to follow the money and budgets from CIO to CMO would get into bought media, whether Adobe (via TubeMogul) or Accenture and in future, Oracle or IBM. The attractions of media arbitrage are too great – see the trading desks at the core of most agency holding companies – and the ability to get paid for “digital transformation” or creative services is insufficient to fund all the acquisitions they have done.

Brian Fitzpatrick, General Manager, Demand Solutions, IPONWEB
Accenture’s launch of a programmatic ad-buying unit was more of a ‘when’ not ‘if’. The company already has its foot firmly in the door of many major brands for which it undertakes other consultancy-related services around technology recommendations, systems integration and optimisation; media buying is a natural extension that enables it to leverage its knowledge of and integration with each client’s specific environment.

Agencies should be concerned. Account reviews are at an all-time high, brands are looking for areas to cut costs and drive better performance, and Accenture has been staffing strategically in advance of this move.

However, there are some concerns as to whether Accenture can deliver and the next few months will be telling. If the consultancy is able to hold on to and grow its media buying client base, it’s likely that more brands will defect from their agency for a test scenario. Failure to do this, however, will indicate that performance is an issue.

There is also the potential for an internal disconnect at Accenture, which has publically stated that it will not consider media buying on more traditional channels such as TV and print because the margins are too low. Nonetheless, it may find the reality of programmatic media buying may not be as rosy as it believes.

Phil Smith, Director General, ISBA
Given Accenture’s activity in this area already, this announcement does not come as a surprise and reflects client interest and demand for media advisory services.

Clearly as Accenture are also an auditor it may represent a potential conflict of interest and we would like to understand how Accenture will ensure there is clear delineation and confidentiality between their auditing and consultancy divisions.

Wayne Blodwell, Founder and CEO, The Programmatic Advisory
Accenture Interactive are striking at a time where trust and transparency have become table stakes in programmatic and at a time when agencies are trying to reorganise their P&L’s to offset the lost revenue from non-disclosed programmatic practices – perfect timing. Are they conflicted launching a programmatic consultancy and execution layer? Only if they don’t manage it correctly with their clients. Accenture Interactive are calling themselves a ‘cagency’ but the reality is it’s more agency 2.0 and they’re fortunate enough that they aren’t stuck with some legacy media practices, process and people.

Mike Shaw, VP, EMEA, DataXu.
The news from Accenture this week isn’t surprising to anyone who has been paying attention. Today brands are actively working through the dual challenge of digital transformation and responding to massive changes in consumer behaviour. This creates a huge opportunity for companies to step in and serve as their strategic guide along the way. However, we view agencies as even more well-positioned for this role than consulting firms, given their size, agility and history of innovation and creativity.


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