ANA Selects K2 Intelligence and Ebiquity/FirmDecisions to Lead Media Transparency Fact Finding

October 20, 2015

By Bill Duggan

Today, the ANA announced that we have selected K2 Intelligence and Ebiquity/FirmDecisions to lead discovery and fact-finding efforts into media transparency issues, including rebates.

The ANA’s focus on media transparency began three years ago with the emergence of undisclosed media rebates. An ANA member survey taken at that time indicated a wide swath of marketers had never heard of rebates or did not know that rebates were a part of their companies’ media buying process in the U.S. The ANA then developed a white paper in conjunction with our general counsel, Reed Smith, to explain rebates in more detail. In early 2014, ANA and Forrester teamed up to explore “transparency” more broadly via another ANA member survey. Results indicated rapidly growing concerns about transparency across a variety of business practices.

In June, the ANA issued an RFP to identify a third-party organization to conduct a thorough and objective analysis of all media transparency issues. We spent our summer combing through the responses (26 of them) and meeting with 14 companies. That has now cumulated with the appointment of K2 and Ebiquity/FirmDecisions.

Here’s what we expect to do:

  • Demystify the landscape and provide a clarifying perspective on the state of transparency. This is foundational to advancing solutions and the development of longer-term quality business practices.
  • Understand the role of holding companies and their levels of engagement.
  • Provide industry perspective on non-transparent behavior such as rebates, barter, arbitrage, dark pools, inventory management, global transactions, and supply chain media management.
  • Assess the quality of the media planning process and understand if media plans are being compromised.
  • Evaluate marketers’ practices and processes. Marketers should have the same level of scrutiny as the balance of the media supply chain.
  • Develop practical solutions and best-practice behaviors that can serve as industry standards. The essential objective is to elevate trust and confidence throughout the media-buying supply chain.

An industry debate has been raging since March (when Jon Mandell spoke at the ANA Media Leadership Conference) and there have been varying and divergent points of view on the rebate issue and on transparency overall. In particular, there is a wide difference of opinion between what we hear from the agency community and other constituencies. This project will investigate, identify truth, and set the record straight. Stayed tuned! 

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