Those sleuths at Ad Age (Alexandra Bruell to be precise) have discovered the existence of a strange entity within Havas – HM Alliance based in Spain – which bills media owners a fee based on the amount of business Havas does with them.
Havas Media Group boss Dominique Delport flatly denies this is one of those alleged ‘media rebate’ deals so exercising clients in the US and elsewhere.
He says the charges are for campaign planning and the like, although he agrees the wording in the documents could be more precise.
Whatever the charges are for, they don’t have to be a rebate in the traditional sense. They could be an extra fee or over-rider – technically not client money at all.
What they almost certainly are is a way for a big media operation to make extra money from its scale and clout in the market.
And why not? It happens in other businesses. I was talking to a media owner the other day who’s quite happy to offload low value inventory to a big agency group. They can charge clients what they like so long as he gets paid up front.
This is media broking, however you dress it up. In a world creaking and groaning with media options we’re going to see a lot more of it, whatever clients think.