As Accenture began the process of winding down its $50 million media management practice this year, George Patten’s phone started ringing. He’s well known to the space, having spent the better part of the past 17 years working in it, mostly for Accenture, first as global client head, then as managing director, building the Asia business and leading the media management practice globally from Singapore.
The calls came from both Accenture’s media clients as well as rival consultancies, looking for advice on where to go with their business. While Patten had moved on from media management over the past four years to manage Asian operations for Accenture Interactive, then for Dentsu Aegis Network as APAC COO, he quickly realised there was a real gap in the market for a more future-focused media management practice. By the end of June, Patten went for it, announcing his departure from Dentsu.
Now, he’s announcing his new firm, Maximise Media Management, launched from his home base in Singapore with leads in four other key global hubs in addition to backend staff. Media advisor Liz Workman with experience at Vodafone and Unilever, will be global strategy and transformation lead out of London. But Patten is also reuniting some of the old band from Accenture media management. Chi Ka Wa, a former Zenith and Mindshare MD who was also Accenture’s North Asia lead and will again lead North Asia for Maximise. Deniz Ergün, Accenture’s former Turkey and MENA will do likewise in her region out of Istanbul, while Alexei Benhamou, who ran major accounts for Accenture out of the US will lead North America.
The scope of work will be wide-ranging, including contract reviews, assessments of agencies and business outcomes, media mix analysis, managing rebates, setting and tracking KPIs and remuneration and payment compliance. Patten says MMM may also run media pitches though he more often advises clients to avoid them.
Competition heats up
The entry of a new player comes as competition in global media auditing heats up to rope-in Accenture’s former clients after its official shutdown on August 31st.
On Thursday, UK-based consultancy ID Comms announced it had acquired media audit specialist PJL Media, led by former Ebiquity North America CEO PJ Leary. ID Comms CEO Tom Denford said the acquisition was "strategically important at a time when many advertisers are rethinking their needs for media auditing."
Ebiquity too is making noise, announcing its intention to capture more Asia clients as it has promoted a new Asia-Pacific MD. Earlier this week, the consultancy announced it had picked up 20 new clients from Accenture mostly in Europe and the US, which it hopes will help reverse slumping revenue.
Others in the space include MediaSense, PwC, R3 and EY along with smaller consultancies.
Patten, however, still feels there is a deep well. “Accenture had 500 clients. If Ebiquity has picked up 20 there’s 480 to go,” he quips.
Moreover, while most competitors are clustered in Europe, Patten feels he can still pick up multiple markets of competitors’ clients in Asia since he’s on the ground here and few competitors (Ebiquity CEO Nick Waters being a notable exception) have Asia experience.
“When I ran Accenture that's how we became quite successful. Because we had senior people here, we really focused on it. We’re not a lot of middle-aged men sitting in offices in London. I don’t know how you do it [from there] with the level of detail you need for markets in APAC. These people have never been to China. Never been to Indonesia, never been to Thailand, never been to India. You have to know the markets inside out.”
Gap in the market
Beyond geography, Patten also tells Campaign that many media audit clients are underwhelmed by existing services.
In February 2018, a WFA report on independent media advisors found that 73% of clients agreed that the industry needs to move away from pool-based auditing and outmoded media price judgments to focus on value-based assessments. A full 96% agreed digital media needs new assessment methodologies.
Yet still today, Patten says clients complain of receiving backward-looking 100-slide power point audit decks and two hour presentations based on the metrics of their 2019 results, when its 2020 and they’re trying to plan for 2021.
His counter-pitch to clients is described as a more business-focused, value-based consultancy that stems from their goals and starts from their contracts, looking at what’s being done to achieve their goals from staffing to media KPIs to use of programmatic to payment terms and tracking more regularly how an agency delivers. Patten says the follow-up needs to be done monthly, as opposed to handing in performance measurement versus a couple of KPIs every six or twelve months.
“How is that going to make your clients’ business better?” he asks.