Accenture Interactive looks to set up in-house trading desks for clients in threat to agencies

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Accenture Interactive is in talks to set up in-house media trading desks for a number of clients as the consulting giant's digital arm threatens to move further onto the ad industry's turf.

Joy Bhattacharya, managing director and the UK & Ireland lead at Accenture Interactive, revealed at a Campaign breakfast briefing that some of the group’s clients are looking to take their digital media buying in-house.

Bhattacharya said that there has been "a lot" of discussion with clients, particularly around "programmatic and all this stuff coming out" about a lack of transparency and fraud in the digital media supply chain.

"We are having certain discussions with our clients" about "how can we set up in-house trading desks" for them, he said.

"My view would be that’s the way you can drive [a] complete level of transparency."

The move by Accenture, the most acquisitive of the management consultants in marketing services, could be a major threat to media-buying groups as it threatens to bypass the role of the traditional media agency.

Bhattacharya insisted Accenture Interactive did not want to move into media buying.

"That’s a space we think our clients should own," he said. "We would like to help our clients build that capability in-house and drive complete transparency in that process."

However, Accenture Interactive would be happy to help a client build an in-house trading desk.

"We’ll set it up for them, we’ll help our clients man it and whatever that is required," he said.

Bhattacharaya suggested Accenture Interactive is keen to play a hands-on role in managing every other part of the media and marketing process for clients – apart from media-buying.

"Everything else we can partner [with clients on]," he explained.

Accenture Interactive has bought ten agencies in digital, design, user experience and creative services, including Karmarama and Fjord, as part of an effort to help clients deliver an "end-to-end" customer experience from new product development and execution to marketing and delivery.

Industry analysts say brands "in-housing" their media-buying is a growing trend.

Bhattacharya was speaking alongside Ben Bilboul, the chief executive of Karmarama, at Campaign’s breakfast briefing, called When The Consultants Met The Creatives, in front of a sold-out audience at the Regent Street Cinema in London.

The breakfast was held in association with SI Partners, the global M&A practice that specializes in advising creative and technology businesses.

Brian Wieser, an analyst at Wall Street firm Pivotal Research, said in a note last week that it found there was a "relatively signficiant escalation" in the number of "large brands have brought programmatic media buying in-house (and taken it away from holding company agencies)."

He pointed "in-house" buying "exists along a continuum, with a range of responsibilities divided up between marketer and agency," and agencies’ role could increase.

"Overall, the impact of this trend is possibly slightly negative for holding companies because it leads some marketers to drive more decision making than might have otherwise occurred," he concluded.

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