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Transparency and Agency Trading Desks

March 22, 2013

By Bill Duggan, Group EVP, ANA

This week’s Advertising Age features a terrific article by Alexandra Bruell reporting on a panel discussion at the recent 4A’s Transformation Conference.  The panel featured six media agency heads and a contentious debate on agency trading desks.  ANA agrees that there are indeed transparency concerns with agency trading desks. 

In late 2011, ANA released a white paper titled,"Agency Trading Desks: Basics Marketers Need to Know & Questions to Ask."  Its purpose is to help educate ANA members on agency trading desks including what they are, what they do, potential benefits, questions to ask, and more.  

Most importantly, the paper advises marketers to be educated on how their company's money is being spent. Every holding company (and independent) does things a little bit differently, so if working with a trading desk, marketers need to understand their agency's model and make sure they are comfortable with it. The following questions and action steps are important.

While agency trading desks could indeed offer many benefits, marketers need to be educated on how their compa­ny’s money is being spent and take responsibility for understanding the pricing model, unique role, and value their agency trading desk provides.

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