Deloitte India is in advanced talks to acquire media audit firm Spatial Access, according to media reports.

Sources close to the development revealed to Economic Times that the deal – estimated to be in the range of Rs 10 to 15 crore (US$1.4 to 2.1 million), for 100% control of the company – is in its final stages and has been in the works for nearly half a year.

Spatial Access is a media audit and advisory company that helps advertisers increase return on investment on their media spends. Its services include using proprietary processes to analyse a marketer’s spends in traditional as well as digital media, print production, below the line (BTL), advertising films, and agency partnerships among others.

The news comes as competitor Accenture announced on 4 February that it is shutting its media auditing arm Accenture Media Management. The firm claims to annually audit more than $40bn of global advertising spending and says it invests more than $5m a year in proprietary tools and media research.

The shutdown was considered inevitable for the firm, which has faced much pushback from the industry thanks to the parallel launch and growth of its advertising offering. In recent years, the consultancy has made several significant acquisitions of ad agencies such as Droga5, Rothco, The Monkeys and Maud and Ho Communication.

In 2018, it also increased investment in programmatic in-housing as well as media planning and buying by launching Accenture Interactive Programmatic Services. Meanwhile, according to Accenture’s 2019 annual report, Accenture Interactive surpassed US$10 billion in annual revenue in the past year.

The move removes a conflict Accenture faced as it played the role of ad buyer and auditor. Competitors asserted Accenture could use its knowledge gleaned through audits to gain an edge in competing for ad-buying contracts.

The pending exit of Accenture in the media auditing space has opened opportunities for existing competitors such as Ebiquity and Deloitte, while at the same time, leaving advertisers with only a handful of alternatives.

Speaking to The Drum, Rob Rakowitz, Initiative Lead for the Global Alliance for Responsible Media within the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) highlighted his concern at the potential ramifications:

“We’re at an inflection point where the media supply chain needs more clarity – clients, agencies, and media owners need more independent oversight to ensure that promises on performance and quality are delivered. By exiting this category, it creates a hole in an industry that needs rebalancing, and one less player doesn’t advance that need. We’ve gone from looking at a conflict of interest for one company to looking at an industry with less and less oversight – and that’s not a good thing.”

Sourced from Economic Times, The Drum, Marketing Interactive