Nevertheless Accuen has persisted as a standalone business unit within Omnicom, and there is no immediate indication that Omnicom intends to change that approach. The company is recruiting for a replacement for Jacobs, who will be based in New York.
Programmatic contributed $20 million in incremental revenue to Omnicom's top line in Q4 2014 (earnings story), bringing the year's total to $140 million. That's good money, but still only about 1% of the holding company's $15.3 billion in total revenues. CEO John Wren tamped down expectations for future programmatic revenue growth during the company's last earnings call.
"I'm expecting good growth from [programmatic] but not the type of growth we had as we were starting it up," he told investors.
Recent months have brought significant changes to many trading desks. In addition to the dissolution of VivaKi AOD and Jacobs’ exit from Accuen, Interpublic Group's Cadreon trading desk has lost much of its global leadership (Brendan Moorcroft, Quentin George and Michael Brunick, who disembarked to launch consulting firm Unbound together).
Only WPP Group's Xaxis has held onto most of its senior leadership in recent years. CEO Brian Lesser, COO Mark Grether and GM of performance Paul Dolan are among its long-standing power players.
That may speak to WPP's investment in talent retention in its ad tech business, or it could have more to do with the resilience of the Xaxis model – which in the words of Lesser is "transparently non-transparent." That model is to take a margin on the media it buys on behalf of marketers, charging a CPM or CPA without disclosing its own costs.
Before running Accuen, Jacobs worked on the publisher side at Yahoo, where he was a VP overseeing ad tech platforms, and at Mode Media (née Glam Media).