ANA survey finds 60% of agencies taking steps to improve media transparency issues

Transparency is an ongoing issue for media agencies

The ANA has reported that the industry is working to improve the basic nature of the media transparency within the advertiser/agency relationship with more than 60% of agencies having indicated that their company had taken action steps to address the transparency issue.

However, the ANA reports after conducting a survey during the week of July 12 with 190 ANA members, 25% of those surveyed were not sure if their agency was working on the transparency issue.This may be due to the findings of the initial report one year ago which reported a "fundamental disconnect" between advertisers and agencies.

At that time, the ANA study in partnership with K2 Intelligence found that media agencies avoided explicit contract language in order to preserve their ability to retain various types of incentives. With many advertisers reportedly working with unsigned contracts or those that contained ambiguous or "gray" areas, there were also many instances where contracts contained opt-in agreements that limit advertisers' rights and have inadequate audit/review rights as well as inadequate enforcement of audit/review rights.

In a response to these ongoing issues, the ANA, in conjunction with its General Counsel, Reed Smith LLP, also reported that it has developed a media agency "Master Media Planning & Buying Services Agreement" which can be used by advertisers in developing their own agency agreement.

The most cited action step in this month's survey after contract revisions was audits, with about 20% of respondents indicating they had conducted audits, while changes to programmatic buying practices to increase transparency was the third most reported step.

For those respondents whose companies had not taken any steps to address media transparency issues, the most cited reasons for not doing so were having limited resources and the belief that transparency is not an issue.

The ANA survey shows that progress is being made, but cautions that there is still a good amount of work that remains to be done. Those advertisers who have not taken action steps to address media transparency issues are strongly encouraged to do so. Even the most sophisticated advertisers — including some members of the ANA board of directors — have uncovered transparency issues when they took the time for close examination.

"I started digging into the details and learned a very valuable lesson. Media transparency can't be delegated,”said Marc Pritchard, current ANA chairman and chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble during the 2017 ANA Media Conference. “The CMO needs to work with all of their media and marketing partners to lead, and that means getting into the weeds, setting expectations, following through, and be willing to break some furniture every once in a while."

Laurie Fullerton

Laurie Fullerton is a writer based in Boston, MA with a background in business, sports, community, medical and travel writing. She has been a newspaper editor in the Boston-area, a sports writer covering yacht racing and a community reporter. She has been reporting for The Drum since October 2015.

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