Accenture confirmed today that it will be shuttering its media auditing and agency search businesses over the next several months.
The decision follows heightened concern by holding companies that those Accenture services conflicted with its growing marketing services company which is a direct competitor to agencies.
An Accenture rep commented, “we can confirm that Accenture has decided to ramp down the area of its business that performs media auditing, benchmarking and agency pitch services by the end of August. As part of the plan, we will work with clients to fulfill existing commitments and support their transitions.”
Last summer both WPP CEO Mark Read and Omnicom CEO John Wren publicly aired concerns about the apparent conflict of interest.
Read told analysts last summer that WPP has “some concerns” about media audits of the company’s clients or agency reviews that are conducted by competitors like Accenture. But he denied previous reports that WPP had “put out an edict” that it would not participate in Accenture-led reviews.
He said in cases where such potential conflicts arise, “we are proceeding carefully, making sure there is separation” from directly competing units. But he added the holding company would be more “comfortable” if concerns about such separation weren’t an issue at all.
Separately Wren applauded WPP’s public comments on the issue while stressing to analysts on a quarterly call, “this is not a new problem.” It is one the company had dealt with “client to client for a long time,” and usually, he added, “we mutually agree on who will do an audit or not do an audit of our results,” implying a competitor would not get the assignment.