AANA: A worrying admission of incompetence from marketers

By AdNews | 22 March 2017

At the AANA transparency event yesterday (21 March), CEO Sunita Gloster revealed some telling admissions from AANA members about their lack of capability, know-how and understanding of the complex world of media trading.

She presented a series of anonymised quotes from 40 member companies that paints a shocking picture of the skills gap of Australian marketers. It tells a tale of over-stretched, under-resourced and completely overwhelmed marketers.

The admissions signal a recognition of where marketers need to improve, which is a good first step.

Here's all the things marketers admit they don't know:

"The murky media supply chain has to be a priority for marketers, it is our profession at stake."

"With media being the biggest expense, cleaning it up has to be a key priority. But with the increasingly broadening remit of the marketer it often feels like I have bigger fish to fry. The pressure on short term growth is immense."

"The biggest area of transparency concern is digital media and programmatic buying. It's the dark art. No visibility. My knowledge here is just not as strong as it should be."

"In light of the Facebook revelations, how much of what I’ve been told broadly is simply not true when it comes to digital media?"

"The only viable option to get transparency in this area is to bring it in house."

"I just don't know what percentage of my digital media spend goes to the publisher to reach the consumer. I should know."

On contracts:

"Members believe they have solid contracts in place with as much audit rights as they could negotiate. Most still unable to address audit at holding company level."

"The AANA contract was acknowledged as a massive step up in improving their starting place templates. With the guidelines a helpful tool to begin the negotiation."

"My media contract is like anti-virus software, once you've installed it, it's useless against the next virus. I'm sure my contract just isn't keeping pace with the change in the media ecosystem."

"There are just too many areas I just don’t know about, media is too complex. I don’t know how to future proof my contract against all disclosures. We're not experts are this." 

"There are so many 'unspeakables' at contract stage. On both sides. We both know what’s going on in the dance. Doesn’t help does it? That's what makes me suspicious."

"Understanding that the holding companies are probably putting the local agencies under extreme pressures to deliver increased profit and growth. Recognition they are businesses with targets too."

"So if the media vehicle choice is line ball, then of course they will recommend what will benefit the agency. I suppose I understand that."

"The troubling bit is how many times a plan recommendation can change 180 degrees when I push back. Is that a lack of rigour on their side or are they trying to get away with it? The outcome either way impacts trust."

"If you don’t think your media agency is objective and impartial then you’re either paranoid or lazy. If you’re paying a supplier – stay on top of it. Invest in it. Pay fairly. Clients should do the heavy lifting to make the relationship able to deliver those things."

"If only media owners would stop writing cheques, that would solve half the problem."

"The walled gardens at Facebook and Google are a significant issue affecting confidence and reputation across the entire media chain."

"Given the size of these companies and their product, it's hard to believe that when they can change their technology so quickly and easily, they can't just embrace needing to be accredited and audited."

"We're finding 'work arounds' that justify keeping on using them. But we really should hold them to account like we do everyone else. I know it's hurting the credibility of the whole chain."

On their own internal capability:

"I don’t think we know what we don’t know. Capability is the problem. I don’t know where to start."

"There is a whopping big gap on media capability client side. We're bringing in ex agency and specialists but we're still behind."

"The CMO had abdicated responsibility. I haven’t educated my teams on these issues. Its the blind leading the blind."

"We just can't be resourced to be across all this. It's not possible. That's why agencies exist, to be experts. But we're both letting each other down. How do we fix this?"


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