Media agencies face new US undisclosed rebates probe

We’ve noted the way media agencies seem to have ridden out the 2016 US ANA report into undisclosed media rebates and the like, based on their holding company owners’ published results anyway.

But now the Wall Street Journal reports that US federal prosecutors have launched a probe into such alleged practices with Havas reported to be one of several big media operations they’ve contacted. The move follows a number of FBI interviews.

Because of the way the US justice system works, with prosecutors anywhere free to investigate just about anything, it’s hard to tell how significant or damaging to the said media agencies and their owners this will be.

But their critics allege that such undisclosed rebates are funnelled away into other entities within the holding company, concealing them from clients but not, necessarily, the feds.

Elsewhere Accenture has reported its latest numbers, disappointing some with its profit expectations although Accenture Interactive is believed too be motoring strongly, growing by about 20 per cent. This would give it a turnover in excess of $7bn although Accenture doesn’t break out figures for its digital unit. It says it has a takeover budget of $1.5bn although it could go higher.

Interestingly Accenture’s core business – tech-based consulting – is coming under pressure from clients demanding more work for less. Now where have we heard that before? Some ad holding company bosses will smile wryly.

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