Accenture Interactive, the digital arm of the management consultancy firm, has rolled out its own Programmatic Services unit, which will incorporate planning, buying and management of programmatic ad campaigns.

The development comes as 65% of US brands stated to the IAB that they are making efforts to bring programmatic in-house, and according to the new arm’s global lead Scott Tieman, assisting brands in developing their own operating models is exactly the opportunity that it’s swooping in on. According to the firm, it will now be able to help “design, build and staff” in-house trading desk capabilities, or alternatively, run full-service global digital media campaigns.  

With a growing number of brands looking to bring programmatic in-house for better control, transparency and economy, the IAB claimed the process could take companies up to a year to implement, taking into account talent recruitment, organisational buy-in, complex coordination of partner contracts, and staff training and orientation.

“It’s not an undertaking for the faint of heart,” Tieman admitted to AdWeek; “It’s something that’s fairly involved.”

The rollout of Accenture Digital Programmatic Services includes three core services including programmatic consulting and in-housing for long-term strategies; media strategy and activation, and ad tech implementation.

Trial by fire

According to the experts, Accenture’s launch of a programmatic ad-buying unit was not so much of an ‘if’ as a ‘when’.

“The company already has its foot firmly in the door of many major brands for which it undertakes other consultancy-related services around technology recommendations, systems integration and optimisation; media buying is a natural extension that enables it to leverage its knowledge of and integration with each client’s specific environment,” commented Brian Fitzpatrick, general manager demand solutions at IPONWEB.

While the move has been on the cards for some time following the acquisition of a number of mergers and acquisitions, Fitzpatrick says that “agencies should be concerned”.

“Account reviews are at an all-time high, brands are looking for areas to cut costs and drive better performance, and Accenture has been staffing strategically in advance of this move.”

The next few months will be a test for Accenture and its potential impact on the programmatic industry. However, Fitzpatrick believes that if the consultancy is able to “hold and grow” its media buying client base, it’s likely more brands will “defect” from their agencies.

“Failure to do this, however, will indicate that performance is an issue,” he adds; “There is the very real possibility that Accenture may not be able to match the performance and ROI delivered by agencies which have media buying in their blood.”