Dennis Holt was one of the first -- if not the first -- to form an independent media services agency in the United States when he founded Western International Media (now IPG's Initiative) in the late 1960s. Now he is one of, if not the first, to accept cryptocurrency payments from the clients his current agency, USIM, services.
Effective today, USIM says it will accept Bitcoin as a method of payment from clients, and in an interview late last week, Holt said USIM will also accept other forms of cryptocurrencies.
"We would accept other cryptos," Holt told MediaPost, adding, "It really depends on what our clients want."
While he said there is a degree of risk associated in taking payments in the form of cryptocurrencies, which can fluctuate rapidly in price and liquidity, he said USIM is doing it to remove some friction from clients who want to utilize cryptocurrencies for paying for advertising services and media buys.
In just the past week, the price of Bitcoin fluctuated about 20%, from a high of $64,318 to a low of $51,300 on news that Turkey would no longer allow Bitcoin to be used in its country.
But many major institutions have begun accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment, and many have also taken significant positions to ensure liquidity and also speculate on the upside of the cryptocurrency's trading.
Holt said USIM does not plan to take a position in Bitcoin and would only hold anything it receives long enough to cover the value of the payments it receives from clients. On the other hand, he said, some clients might be able to leverage their Bitcoin positions to make more efficient media buys.
"If there's a client that bought the coins at $12,000 and they're now $50-something-thousand, then they're using it to cut their advertising costs," he noted, adding: "Now there are also risks and fees associated with using it, and they should understand that too."
Ultimately, Holt says the move to accept cryptocurrencies is just another evolution in the media services industry and another way agencies can accommodate clients who have those kinds of financial needs.
"This all started when a client asked me if we'd accept Bitcoin as payment, and I said, 'Absolutely'," Holt explains, adding: "I just want to give our clients options, if they want it.
"We're privately held and not publicly traded, so it's something we can do."