Transparency series: What are the answers?

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 10 May 2017

This is a free excerpt from the AdNews Monthly print magazine cover feature. Over the course of May 2017, ahead of our AdNews Live! Tackling Transparency event  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.

Media transparency has become one of the most pressing issues facing marketers today.

In the past year, the issue has gained prominence across the world with the ANA’s Report on media rebates in the US, the overcharging scandal at Dentsu Japan, and P&G global brand officer Marc Pritchard’s warning to the “murky” and “fraudulent” digital media supply chain.

Then there was also Facebook misreporting metrics and, more recently, concerns about brand safety on YouTube. In Australia, The Media Challenge summit held by the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) firmly placed transparency on the agenda for big advertisers over here.

Every corner of the media buying ecosystem faces a different set of market challenges, agendas and influences and, as a result, conflicts that arise from any link within the supply chain contribute to the transparency issue at large.

The aim of this investigative report isn’t to rake over the same old coals, it aims to move the debate forward by looking at tensions in the system that may lead to a lack of transparency and present practical steps which can help all parties arrive at a healthier and more trusting media buying ecosystem.

Check out the AdNews Live! Tackling Transparency event on 27 June. Tickets are now on sale. 

AdNews spoke to senior marketers - usually at CMO level, media agency leaders, media owners, marketing consultants, and ad tech vendors. Due to the sensitive nature of the issue, most asked to contribute anonymously.

A key point raised was that industry-wide collaboration is paramount to finding a path forward. This means agencies, media owners, clients and ad tech vendors “parking their ego at the door” as IPG Mediabrands’ global CEO Henry Tajer recently put it.

The areas that need addressing include marketers’ capability, agency remuneration, contracts, the role of pitching, media owners, digital media and programmatic.

Addressing these areas is just as important for the long-term sustainability of the media buying ecosystem as it is for restoring trust and transparency now. 

In this series we explore:

  • Remuneration, agencies lowballing and false economies
  • How to improve pitching
  • Contract transparency & How to tighten supplier contracts
  • Digital media
  • Programmatic trading desks & how to improve programmatic
  • Marketers' knowledge and media owners

There are no easy solutions to this multifaceted problem but fundamental shifts need to occur across the ecosystem to drive change. Marketers need to demand and set their expectations more of their media agencies, holding companies and suppliers, stop talking about cost and start having conversations with the c-suite about value. As Warren Buffet said: “The cost is what you pay, the value is what you get.”

Media agencies and holding companies need to work with digital publishers and ad exchanges to get consistent metrics and transparency in reporting of performance.

Agencies need to sort out which of their clients are going to continue to buy on price and identify those who are going to move towards performance and be able to accommodate them. Media agencies could do well to band together and come up with an industry-wide solution or set of standards on how they tackle contentious areas but the final goal is a market that builds sustainable remuneration models, contracts that all parties are happy with, and a mindset that focuses on performance and value rather than cost.

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.


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