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Does MediaSense PwC deal signal shake-up among ad consultants?

Advertising has always been fertile ground for what used to be called (somewhat gender specifically) “middle men” and media consultant MediaSense is expanding quite dramatically by acquiring accountancy giant PwC’s entire 50-strong Marketing and Media Owner team. MediaSense is now backed by Apiary Capital.

MediaSense CEO Graham Brown (left) says: “This is an exciting development for MediaSense and an important step in our ambitious growth plans. The acquisition brings us a talented team with complementary skills, capabilities and experience, and an impressive portfolio of global clients. Uniting these two leading businesses under the MediaSense brand will further cement our position as the world’s foremost media advisory business.” MediaSense will now have a team of about 180.

At the same time rival ID Comms has hired former Bloomberg, Economist and BBC Worldwide exec Sarah Green as its first head of growth to spearhead expansion efforts.

CEO Tom Denford says: “We are thrilled to welcome Sarah Green to our team. Her extensive experience and impressive track record in the media industry make her the perfect fit for this role. Sarah understands the details and what makes digital media a driver of business growth, and she is great at building trusted relationships with senior marketing and procurement leaders around the world.”

So there seems to be growth available in media consultancy, although one might question why the mighty PwC is pulling out. Technology too it seems. Dutch firm Randstad NV, which describes itself as the world’s largest talent company, has hired Accenture Song as its AI-based global creative and content AOR.

Accenture is a massive tech-based consultancy of course but it’s interesting that ad offshoot Song has got this gig. Accenture says this new content capability will be a generative AI-powered creative studio using Adobe Firefly and other tools for the “creation of content that is on-brand and highly effective.” Payments firm Klarna has recently been boasting that AI has cut its marketing costs by 25% so it looks like a trend is emerging.

At one time adland consultants specialised in pitches and many still do although the likes of MediaSense also like to offer their services on an ongoing basis. Creative pitches have become longer, more expensive and, arguably, even less useful in recent years.

The work rarely, if ever, actually runs but agencies still spend a fortune on it. Then the CMO leaves and a new one calls another agency review to show they’re doing something. Ad Age in the US has reported that an increasing number of mid-sized clients are eschewing pitch consultants, in many cases hiring so-called “transactional” CMOs (ie freelances) to advise them.

Media, so far, has avoided this rather grim fate although it looks as though some sort of rationalisation is taking place.

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