- Accenture has entered an agreement to acquire New York-based ad tech firm Adaptly, according to news shared with Marketing Dive. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Adaptly will be folded into Accenture's digital marketing division, Accenture Interactive, to strengthen its digital media buying and measurement capabilities. Accenture Interactive first pushed into programmatic advertising services in May.
Adaptly focuses on media buying across large digital platforms such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Instagram and Snapchat, and has clients including Chico's, Mazda, Prudential and Sprint. The company, founded in 2010, currently has roughly 150 employees and offices in Chicago, London and Los Angeles.
Accenture Interactive has been criticized for its recent move into programmatic services, with agency trade body the 4A's arguing a conflict of interest exists given that parent company Accenture occasionally audits competitors in the space, per The Wall Street Journal. The Adaptly news suggests Accenture has no intentions of slowing down its push into programmatic and comes at a critical moment, as agencies weather mounting scrutiny into their own media-buying practices, including through an ongoing FBI probe. Nikki Mendonça, president of Accenture Interactive Operations, said in a statement that purchasing Adaptly will help the consultancy not only improve campaign ROI but also transparency for its clients.
Due to transparency issues and struggles with digital transformation, marketers have moved programmatic functions — which were handled by agencies in the past — in-house in recent years. The IAB, working with the support of Accenture Interactive, published a report earlier this year that suggested 65% of marketers have shifted all or parts of their programmatic buying in-house. The research released near Accenture's launch of its programmatic unit.
Technology integration is an advantage consultancies like Accenture, Deloitte and IBM iX wield as they compete for more client dollars with old guard agencies. The pinch to agencies has been felt more acutely of late as brands demand better control and application over areas like data. WPP, which this week announced plans to considerably realign its business structure, including by eliminating 3,500 jobs, said at an investor meeting on Tuesday that it now considers consultancies key competition when it comes to technology and talent, per the Journal.
The edge that WPP and its peers have held is in traditional marketing creative and branding duties, but that's another area where Accenture is looking to quickly build out its business. Adweek earlier this month reported that Accenture is among three finalists in the running to buy MDC Partners, the sprawling, embattled agency network that still retains some heavy hitter agencies like 72andSunny.
The potential purchase of MDC would mark a dramatic addition to the slew of agency shops, which have been largely smaller and independent, that Accenture has purchased in recent years. In the past few months alone, it picked up the digital-first Kolle Rebbe, a German creative agency with clients like Netflix and Audi, and the Brazilian content marketing shop New Content.
The steady stream of acquisitions has appeared to support Accenture Interactive's performance. On a recent quarterly earnings call with analysts, Accenture executives noted they were pleased with the division and said the company's "new" business categories, encompassing Accenture Interactive, Accenture Applied Intelligence and Industry X, had grown more than 20% over the past 12 months.