Well there’s no harm in that you might say, Google is, after all, the biggest online ad distributor and agencies need to maximise their clients’ money.
But according to IT site TechCrunch the relationship often goes beyond cosy with agencies receiving ‘incentives’ from Google for putting business its way, incentives that those of a suspicious cast of mind might call kickbacks.
This is all happening because of agency online trading desks or ‘Demand Side Platforms’ (DSPs). The trouble is that such financial markets-sounding offerings are wholly dependent on the technology supplied by Google and, to a lesser extent, its smaller competitors such as Yahoo. So the so-called partnerships that agencies are forming, TechCrunch mentions Publicis Groupe-owned Vivaki in particular, are bound to funnel huge volumes of business in their technology provider’s direction.
Vivaki is expected to put $1bn through Google via its DSP this year of which $200m is display.
Publicis, of course, prides itself on its digital offer (it bought Razorfish from Microsoft for $500m) and its partnership with Google, which includes Google staff in Publicis offices, is the closest of any agency group.
But kickback is an even dirtier word than usual in advertising these days with Vivaki’s operation in China caught up in a kickbacks and money laundering scandal.
So these are sticky waters indeed.