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Advertising’s Transparency Crisis

February 21, 2014

By Bill Duggan, Group EVP, ANA

Marketers, agencies, and media sellers need a trusted environment to build successful and enduring partnerships. But lately there have been increasing concerns about the issue of media and media agency transparency—i.e., sellers and agencies providing honesty and clarity to marketers on costs, placements, and data.

What began as a whisper a few years ago has increased dramatically in intensity.  It’s not an overstatement to say that ANA has heard more concerns about media transparency in the past year than at any other point in memory. The industry is facing a transparency crisis.

There are various issues that have contributed to this transparency crisis, including:

This transparency crisis is global. The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) recently asked its members to rate a number of “priorities” of interest to marketing procurement professionals. From a list of twenty options, “cost transparency: understanding kickbacks, pass throughs, and rebates” ranked second (surpassed only by agency compensation).

Our business has historically been built on trust and relationships. But this transparency crisis is causing trust to break down and ultimately that will affect the relationships marketers have with their agencies and the media.

Marketers need to be inquisitive and ask questions. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Thanks to The Economist Group for first publishing this perspective in their Lean back marketing blog.

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