WPP Shuns Accenture-Led Pitches; Publicis Closes Epsilon Acquisition

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Audit This 

WPP has had enough of Accenture playing agency and media auditor at the same time. So, starting in 2020, it will no longer participate in pitches run by the consulting firm. WPP is concerned that Accenture can use the media and services data it provides for an audit, which can include what the group pays for GRPs, CPMs, viewability rates and reach/frequency analysis, to undercut WPP agencies on price in pitches, sources tell Digiday. While Accenture maintains that it has high walls between its auditing business and its agency arm, it could technically use an agency’s data against it in pitches. But by blackballing Accenture, WPP could potentially be missing out on a lot of revenue, since most of the largest global advertisers work with the firm’s auditing practice. “WPP needs to have a compelling argument to justify the boycott to advertisers as I doubt many will share the same conflicts of interests concerns as agencies,” a media executive said. More.

Welcome Home 

It’s official: Publicis Groupe has finalized its acquisition of Epsilon for $3.9 billion. On Tuesday, the holding company laid out its integration plan for Epsilon, which will absorb the Publicis PeopleCloud and become the group’s central data platform. Epsilon’s creative agency business will be merged into Publicis Communications, while the CJ Affiliate network will be rolled into Publicis Media. Global clients will still be able to access Epsilon through Publicis’ “Power of One” model, which creates cross-agency teams that ladder up to a global client leader. The Epsilon acquisition “completes our sets of assets harmoniously, with data capabilities that are second to none, and propels the Groupe as the global leader of personalized experiences at scale,” CEO Arthur Sadoun said in the release. Read it

Platform Power

Google and Amazon cast a long shadow across practically any company hoping to get off the ground in the new economy. Of the 22 tech IPO filings in the past 18 months made by companies planning to raise at least $100 million, 17 have cited Google or Amazon (and often both) as a competitor or risk to their business. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who’s made breaking up Big Tech a big part of her platform, says that large technology companies have created a so-called “kill zone” that stops startups from growing past a certain size without getting bought or put out of business. Smaller companies can avoid the “kill zone,” but that usually means getting into bed with the big guys, Bloomberg reports. Lyft, for example, spent more than $90 million on Google ads in 2018, beyond paying the unreported licensing fee for Google’s location and mapping technology, which Lyft uses in its app. Lyft also expects to spend about $300 million over the next few years in Amazon Web Services fees. The same issue exists for Pinterest, which noted in its IPO filing that “our ability to maintain and increase the number of visitors directed to our service from search engines is not within our control.” Search engines, like Google, can modify their algorithms and policies, and enforce those policies, in “ways that are detrimental to us,” Pinterest wrote. More.

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