ID Comms, the indie management consultancy, has picked up media auditing specialist PJL Media to integrate with its global media auditing assurance practice. The combined ID Comms Assurance business will be headed by PJL founder PJ Leary.
The move comes after Accenture announced it was stopping media auditing in February and ceased involvement in August, making way for smaller consultancies to pick up more business.
Inside ID comms' first acquisition
Leary has been tasked with overseeing the merger and devising more aspirational measures to cater to advertisers seeking services above and beyond the 'rearview mirror' audit approach by focussing its offer on the future.
This approach centres on high accuracy, rapid data gathering and assessment to inform strategic recommendations across all paid media.
The tie-up will bring additional expertise and scale behind ID Comms' global media assurance business.
As global chief exec, Leary will oversee a combined business managing $8bn in advertiser media investment.
Under the terms of the deal, Leary will also be made a minority shareholder in ID Comms and join the company board.
Leary is a highly regarded media auditor having previously served as chief exec of Ebiquity in North America between 2003 and 2014.
Today's deal coincidentally reunites Leary with his old Ebiquity boss John Billett, who serves as a non-executive director at ID Comms.
Why it matters
Growth in demand for media auditing has been particularly pronounced in North America, amid a public debate on media transparency.
This was catapulted back into the spotlight by a 'bombshell' 2016 ANA Transparency report which precipitated a subsequent FBI investigation into opaque buying practices.
That trend has been augmented by advertisers investing heavily in measuring media buying to leverage dynamic bid-based buying techniques.
Smaller consultancies have also sensed an opening since Accenture closed its Media Auditing Operation in August to avert any conflict of interest with its media business.
Accenture's withdrawal opens up the potential to win potentially hundreds of new advertiser clients seeking media auditing services with Ebiquity alone claiming to have secured 20 new clients worth £5m per year.
Tom Denford, chief exec of ID Comms Group, said: “This acquisition was strategically important for ID Comms at a time when many advertisers are rethinking their needs for media auditing and perhaps looking for more modern techniques, fit for the digital age.
Turning to the future Denford added: "We are excited to bring our new global standards for media auditing to ambitious advertisers asking ‘what’s next?’...”
Outlining his ambitions, Leary said: "Together, we will continue to focus on accelerating our global Assurance business with a differentiated service emphasizing agility, relevant insights and methodologies that are purpose-built to inform tomorrow.”