Tuesday 4 February 2020 3:18 pm

Accenture closes media auditing arm amid conflict of interest claims

Accenture is set to close its media auditing division amid concerns of a conflict of interest with digital marketing business Accenture Interactive.

The consulting giant runs a small division known as Accenture Media Management, which offers auditing and consulting services to brands.

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However, the company has come under scrutiny over a potential conflict of interest with Accenture Interactive, which has grown into a major new rival to traditional holding groups like WPP after buying up smaller agencies such as Droga 5.

An Accenture spokesperson today confirmed the closure, but did not comment on whether it was related to potential conflicts of interest.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

“As part of the plan, we will work with clients to fulfil existing commitments and support their transitions.”

The company said it would “redeploy” impacted employees to other roles across Accenture, but did not say how many were affected.

“The reality is that clients and their agencies were always uncomfortable with the obvious conflict of interest, ” said Stephen Allan, worldwide chairman and chief executive of Mediacom.

“Accenture has made a call on which part of the business is going to be an area of growth, especially given the relatively small size of their media auditing arm in the context of the company as a whole.”

Christian Polman, chief strategy officer at rival media consultancy Ebiquity, said the move showed that the market for independent advisory services had fundamentally changed.

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“Increasingly, brands must be able to trust the advice they receive from advisers if they want to truly unlock the potential of their marketing spend and drive enhanced value and impact,” he said.

“This requires full independence from the media trading ecosystem, as well as adherence to well defined standards that are in line with what is expected by brands and their agency and technology partners.”