Accenture’s decision this week to end its auditing division may not resolve conflict issues that some agency leaders say still exist.
Steve Parker Jr., CEO of Levelwing tells MediaPost, “The decision for Accenture to depart the audit business is fine, however let’s not pretend this conflict is removed. They collected data on thousands of agencies’ billing rates, tools and services solutions among other things, and one would intuitively believe this robust database is still in existence.”
This knowledge could enhance Accenture Interactive’s ability to undercut competitors on pitches if that trove of data is not properly walled off or discarded once the firm’s audit and review winds down. That’s expected to occur by August.
This is particularly worrisome to Scott Goodson, CEO, StrawberryFrog since Accenture’s current strategy is to become the “largest buyer of ad, marketing and design agencies in the world” he says, noting previous acquisitions such as Karmarana, Fjord, WhatIf and Droga. “Accenture can no longer justifiably present itself as an objective auditor of media,” he added.
Parker also said he questions the thoroughness of the actual audits stating, “If they were thorough audits one would believe this would have directly impacted best practices in areas such as tagging and tracking standardization that has a clear and obvious impact on media performance.”
Further, adds Parker, “we also have yet to see any marked industry improvement in the misappropriation of financial rebates and incentives. So I’d surmise either these audits are irrelevant or incomplete.”
That said, many agency executives applaud Accenture’s move away from audits and agency reviews believing it to be a “very positive step in the right direction for our industry,” as one put it.