Accenture to help clients in-house programmatic trading amid transparency fears

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 15 March 2017
Accenture wants to help its clients bypass media agency resources by bringing programmatic trading in-house.

Accenture Interactive intends to help clients bring their digital media buying in-house – a move that threatens to bypass an increasingly important and lucrative part of a media agency's role.

The move, reported in the UK's media and marketing bible Campaign, is motivated by discussions around programmatic trading, including concerns about transparency and fraud in the digital media supply chain – concerns reiterated in a strongly-worded comment piece by AANA CEO Sunita Gloster.

Accenture Interactive's plans were revealed at a Campaign UK breakfast briefing by UK and Ireland managing director Joy Bhattacharya, who said there had been “a lot” of discussions with clients on how to set up trading desks.

"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."

Bhattacharya said the global consulting giant isn't looking to get involved in media buying, but keen to manage other parts of the media planning and execution process.

AdNews understands Accenture is planning similar moves in Australia and has approached the consultancy for comment.

Last year Accenture acquired one of the UK's largest independent ad agencies Karmarama and the business has a history of rapid growth through acquisitions.

Media agency concerns

The threat of clients in-housing programmatic trading is a very real concern for media agencies. Yesterday, an agency head of investment told AdNews that more clients are looking to bring the function internally, but the idea isn't always as easy to implement as it sounds on paper.

For starters, it costs money to either train or bring in highly skilled talent to manage the process once the technology is in place. Media agencies have helped clients manage this process. 

Although legitimate concerns exist about the opaque nature of the programmatic trading margins agencies skim off the guaranteed price, agencies usually offer better-than-market rates and have sophisticated vetting processes to police issues like ad fraud and brand safety.

Foxtel, which runs an in-house programmatic trading desk, recently had one of its ads placed against a video of far-right group Reclaim Australia on YouTube.

Global professional services and technology firms have been eyeing the marketing space for several years. Earlier this week, PwC revealed it has formed its CMO Advisory board, bringing in non-executive directors Gloster and Foxtel's Mark Buckman. It has already begun working with clients on projects.

PwC provides strategic marketing consulting to CMOs, another move that encroaches upon traditional media agency turf.

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