Specialist media consulting firms and media agencies have claimed Accenture faces a “clear conflict” of interest over the launch of its programmatic media planning and buying unit. Ebiquity and its contract compliance business FirmDecisions, MediaSense and ID Comms have told Campaign that Accenture Interactive’s Programmatic Services unit is a conflict because Accenture’s separate Media Management arm carries out media audits of agencies and runs pitches.

Several agency leaders echoed that criticism. Stephen Allan, global chief executive of MediaCom, called Accenture’s dual roles “troubling”.

Accenture has insisted that it can avoid any conflict of interest and “would not provide auditing and programmatic services to the same client”. Accenture’s critics have suggested it could dispose of its media audit business and the consulting giant did not rule that out when asked by Campaign.

Accenture Interactive has done work in performance marketing for around five years and began talking about setting up in-house programmatic trading desks for clients last year. Alan Rutherford, chairman of Ebiquity’s media practice, which carries out media audits for dozens of leading advertisers, described Accenture’s launch of a programmatic buying unit this week as “a game-changer” and “a clear conflict” because of the consulting giant’s “legacy media auditing services”.

Rutherford said ad agency groups will be “unhappy” at the prospect of Accenture Interactive moving into media-buying when a sister business has “access to confidential client and agency media data and financial information”. Stephen Broderick, chief executive of FirmDecisions, which checks that agencies have complied with contracts, said: “This is a conflict. The role of an auditor must be entirely independent and its decisions free from financial gain. Read more from campaignlive.com…

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