It is now more than a year since the Association of National Advertisers’s media transparency report helped blow the lid off practices in which US advertising agencies were accused of keeping up to 20% of clients’ media budgets for themselves after engaging in “pervasive” kick-backs and rebates.
That report kickstarted a cacophony of “transparency” talk, including the ANA issuing a series of recommended solutions.
Since then, chatter from industry folk is that things have improved, though not as much as may be desired.
For ANA group EVP Bill Duggan, progress has been made on brands’ agency contracts, auditing and programmatic buying.
“It’s been sort of a slow build,” he say sin this video interview with Beet.TV, “but we’ve been hearing increasingly from our members that they’ve been looking harder at their contracts.
A great time to look at contracts is during media pitches. What we’ve learned is that, among our members that have taken some action regarding the rebates, that 60% have taken action around agency contracts.”
Whilst the first report focused on agency buying behaviour, the latest area of transparency concern is emerging as the production of creative assets.
This summer, ANA issued a report on that topic, finding issues around whether agencies disclose the use of either in-house or commissioned creative producers.
“The production unit that may be doing some business for that client (may be) part of the agency, but the client may not know that,” Duggan adds. “Equally troubling is the fact that there are cases where those internal production units are competing against external independent editors.
“All those relationships need to be disclosed. And if there is a case where an internal agency unit is being considered, those bits (must not) initially go through the agency producer. They need to go through either a third party cost consultant or directly to the client.”