This is a free excerpt from the AdNews Monthly print magazine cover feature. Over the course of May we will serialise the feature into bite-sized chunks. To read the full article now download a digital version of AdNews or subscribe to the premium print edition here. You can hear these subjects tackled at the AdNews Live! Tackling Transparency event on 27 June. Tickets are now on sale.
The complexity and increasing fragmentation of media makes it difficult for marketers to understand and stay on top of.
The average CMO or marketing director spends on average 5% of their time on media.
“A lot of the complexity and the issue around transparency comes from a lack of confidence or understanding about what goes on in media buying,” a senior marketer says.
Another problem exacerbating the issue is that the shortening of CMO tenures is making it difficult for them to find the time to devote to specific areas like programmatic.
“The reality is the CMO will be in their role for two to three years. They would spend the first 12 months just getting into the door, the next 12 months putting in place perhaps their advertising platform or positioning of the brand and then they’ve got less than 12 months working out what they do next,” a marketer says.
“The reality is for them to prioritise what is happening programmatically with pass through of costs simply is not on their radar. When it comes on their radar is when you have commentary in the trade press of the AFR for instance, when your C-level or the board is reading it you have to have a view on that.”
Below the CMO, marketing and brand managers may spend 20% of their time on media but very few will have an understanding of complex digital media buying areas like programmatic trading.
To overcome this lack of knowledge internally, some larger companies have employed media controllers who have a specialism in media buying and planning and can devote much more time scrutinising spend, contracts and agency relations.
In a business environment where marketing is far more accountable than it was 10 or 20 years ago, this extra layer of scrutiny can prove valuable.
In debates about media transparency, media agencies often tend to take much of the flak, somewhat unfairly, but media owners also play a role in negotiating deals that clients may be none the wiser.
“Google with YouTube has recently been the poster child for everything that’s gone wrong in media but I feel that there are other media owners who need to play a role in building the industry back up and showcasing what we do as a valued part of marketing rather than something that everyone is awkwardly hiding from at the moment,” a marketer says.
Incentives, rebates or bonus inventory can be offered as part of group deals with large media owners and it is not always clear how this value is redistributed to clients.
“There was a common denominator and that was the TV networks that interacted with all media agencies,” a former media buyer explains.
“I just question where media owners sit in terms of responsibility of a lack of transparency in the first instance.”
Group volume deals provide benefits to clients who get inventory cheaper than market rates but they also provide some agencies with benefits.
Such benefits include pools of extra inventory that can be used to win new business or maintain current clients.
It’s not just TV that offers sweeteners, digital media giants, particularly Facebook, can offer quite generous incentives.
“I feel there is a lot of pressure that the big media owners place onto the agencies that don’t help them be transparent. There’s a lot of deals that get done and things that get discussed that I know that agencies can’t disclose to clients because if they do they don’t get [the deals].
“Therefore agencies are also capturing the downstream pressure of the big end of town media owners and no one is pulling the media owners aside to have that conversation.”
Check out the entire Transparency Series here.
You can hear these subjects tackled at the AdNews Live! Tackling Transparency event on 27 June. Tickets are now on sale. Speakers include Tim Egan, regional product marketing manager at Facebook and Tony Bell, national digital sales director at The Guardian Australia. More to be announced this week. Early Bird discounted tickets are available until 26 May. Buy tickets now.
This article is part of a series on Transparency which originally appeared in AdNews in print.