Transparency Voted ANA “Marketing Word of the Year” for 2016

December 12, 2016



Selection Follows Media Transparency Study Released in June

NEW YORK (December 12, 2016) — If a single word could represent the U.S. marketing industry in 2016, what would it be? According to the members of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers), that word is transparency.

During the week of November 28, the ANA surveyed its members online, asking them to vote on the Marketing Word of the Year from a list of finalists prepared by the ANA staff. A total of 267 members participated, and “transparency” received the most votes.

The selection reflected the June release of a transparency study conducted by the ANA in conjunction with K2 Intelligence, which reported widespread allegations of various non-transparent business activities by ad agencies and media agencies throughout the U.S. media ecosystem.

Other top choices in the 2016 Marketing Word of the Year voting were customer experience, content marketing, influencer, and programmatic. It was the third consecutive year the ANA announced a Marketing Word of the Year. Previous winners were content marketing (2015) and programmatic (2014).

“It’s no surprise that our members chose transparency as the Marketing Word of the Year,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “Our media transparency study was one of our most important initiatives and it sparked fundamental behavioral changes among marketers and in the industry, here and around the world.”

A representative selection of verbatim comments from ANA members who voted for transparency as the ANA 2016 ANA Marketing Word of the Year included:

  • [Transparency] is the single most important issue in marketing and has the greatest potential benefit in terms of improving marketing ROI.
  • Transparency, or lack of transparency, defines all media agency relationships and provides a new perspective to consider these relationships.
  • The K2 findings have served as a milestone encouraging change in how clients and agencies partner on media deals.
  • Fraud and lack of transparency are killing the digital ecosystem for advertisers.
  • Because of the important K2 report and the light it shed on the broken agency/client model, coming to a common ground that works for marketers is crucial to the future of this relationship.
  • Transparency affects everything we communicate in marketing, from our product formulations and labels to how we communicate in all channels to our internal culture.
  • Consumers want to do business with brands they can trust. That goes to the heart of transparency.
  • Trust between agencies and clients has never seemed worse, especially in the world of programmatic and data.

Following the release of the transparency report, the ANA and Ebiquity/FirmDecisions released “Media Transparency: Prescriptions, Principles, and Processes for Advertisers,” which offers guidelines for advertisers and agencies designed to help them address the transparency issues identified in the K2 Intelligence study. In addition, the ANA, in conjunction with its general counsel, Reed Smith LLP, developed a media agency “Master Media Planning & Buying Services Agreement” which can be used by advertisers in developing their own agency agreement.

In August, the ANA formed a Production Transparency Task Force to assess whether there are non-transparent advertising agency practices in production services and to develop recommendations for improvement.


The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) makes a difference for individuals, brands, and the industry by advancing the interests of marketers and promoting and protecting the well-being of the marketing community. Founded in 1910, the ANA provides leadership that advances marketing excellence and shapes the future of the industry. The ANA’s membership includes nearly 1,000 companies with 15,000 brands that collectively spend or support more than $300 billion in marketing and advertising annually. The membership is comprised of more than 700 client-side marketers and nearly 250 Associate Members, which include leading agencies, law firms, suppliers, consultants, and vendors. Further enriching the ecosystem is the work of the nonprofit Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF), an ANA subsidiary. The AEF’s mission is to enhance the understanding of advertising and marketing within the academic and marketing communities.

John Wolfe
Director of Communications
Office: 212.455.8011
Cell: 914.659.8663