Accenture announced last week the launch of its Programmatic Services unit, which would expand its offerings to encompass media planning, buying and management. The statement below elaborates on the 4A’s position on Accenture’s new venture.
In this ever-changing media landscape, the agency industry welcomes competition; it is good for clients, good for agencies and ultimately good for markets. But the playing field must be level for everyone in the ecosystem.
While agencies have adapted to consulting firms’ disruption of the media landscape and their role as auditors in the client-agency partnership, we feel strongly that Accenture Interactive’s new Programmatic Services unit is a clear conflict of interest, positioning Accenture to engage in media trading and then also be responsible for auditing the trading results and processes of its competitors.
We find this unacceptable and are concerned about whether Accenture will be transparent in ensuring that the massive amount of information it has collected from agencies—both as auditor as well as via the agency review process—is not leveraged for the benefit of its new practice.
The 4A’s has reached out to the Media Rating Council (MRC) to emphasize the need to revisit the updated draft of the Ad Agency Media Auditing Guidelines to directly address auditor independence and objectivity including conflicts of interests that exist when a “media auditor” either directly competes with companies that it audits or performs sourcing services (agency search review activity and/or agency media pricing, compensation or contract terms activities) that impact the objectivity of auditing activities.
We urge all agencies to take this moment to think critically about whether they will continue participating in any review that Accenture is leading and determine if they will allow Accenture to continue auditing their media. We encourage marketers to consider the inappropriateness of engaging firms that have inherent conflicts of interests and to support their agency partners in this process, as well as have active dialogue around selecting auditors that are appropriate for both sides of the client-agency partnership.
We are clear that agencies remain the best media partner for clients who don’t need a single channel expert but instead a partner that can deliver judgment, creativity and perspective across categories and borders. Media agencies are the only enterprises that see every seller of inventory; every provider of data; every slice of the buy side, sell side, client side and the adtech stack.