Accenture pulls out of media auditing – could Dentsu’s DAN be in its sights?

Anybody out there with a media agency they’d like to sell?

Accenture is pulling out of media auditing to concentrate on “agency” services, which may well include full-on media planning and buying. It already handles programmatic for some advertisers.

Accenture has been receiving a growing amount of flak for its auditing, with WPP’s GroupM for example refusing to share information about prices etc, fearing that this knowledge would supercharge Accenture’s own media activities despite Accenture saying the two activities were separate.

Accenture says “We have decided to ramp down the area of our business that performs media auditing, benchmarking and agency pitch services by the end of August. As part of the plan, we will work with clients to fulfil existing commitments and support their transitions.” Ramp down is an interesting one.

Media agencies remain a big and profitable part of the ad holding companies although margins and scrutiny have tightened since the US ANA report into media transparency in 2016.

Accenture Interactive is now comfortably the biggest digital-based ad agency in the world and it has recently spread its wings into conventional agencies, most notably with the $450m acquisition of Droga5. It may decide to stick to programmatic media, often by helping clients in-house, but sooner or later adland’s version of “mission creep” usually takes hold, often when a big client comes knocking.

There aren’t too many media independents of scale around, Horizon in the US is probably the biggest. Dentsu’s DAN network is currently undergoing all sort of upheavals but it remains a big global player. Dentsu could be open to offers, it paid £3.2bn for the Carat-based network in 2012.

Deals aside, the right team backed by Accenture’s resources and reputation could rapidly make inroads.

The likes of GroupM and Omnicon Media Group will be pleased to see the back of Accenture as auditors but fearful of its impact on a wider battlefield.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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