Make no mistake about it: Accenture Interactive is here to eat the agency’s lunch.
“Our clients asked us to get in this business,” said Glen Hartman, Accenture Interactive managing director for North America, at AdExchanger’s Industry Preview on Wednesday.
Clients are starting to look for “nontraditional service providers” that can tie multiple threads together. That includes a scaled technology offering, which is where Accenture has its roots, to the creative, insights and analytics.
Accenture Interactive, which Hartman described as a digital agency startup within the Accenture mother ship, is attempting to achieve that mission through acquisitions, starting with design agency Fjord in 2013 and in November with London-based creative agency Karmarama.
Because the future of creative isn’t just making a brand promise, Hartman said, it’s using tech to deliver on that promise.
“Marketing is inextricably linked to technology,” Hartman said. “I’m not a proponent of saying we can solve every marketing problem with next-generation software, but with creative thinking we can wrap services around software to make marketing sing.”
Accenture may not have as many golden Lions as primarily creative shops like R/GA or AKQA, but if a client is looking for effectiveness, “we could outpace them,” Hartman claimed.
“That’s not to say the creative idea is going away,” he said. “[But] we want to be able to help clients be able to do things on a global scale at a level of sophistication that’s way beyond one campaign and way beyond personalization as we see it today.”
The end result are consultancies that bear a striking resemblance to agencies. On Tuesday, Accenture Interactive hastened that blurring line with the hiring of former Rosetta CEO Tammy Soares as West Coast lead, tasked with bringing more creative people into the consultancy fold.
But although Accenture might increasingly look like a duck and quack like a duck, it’s not a duck, at least in the way it charges for its services, which is fully performance-based.
For example, Accenture has had several thousand people embedded globally with one of its auto clients for around three years working on all of its marketing functions, including social, mobile, media and lead generation – but there are no fixed-rate contracts or service-level agreement, and its people don’t get compensated for time and materials.
It’s a very consulting-esque model for an agency-esque offering.
“We get paid on new cars sold,” Hartman said. “Just the end result based on deep analytics and based on the baseline performance for the business.”