Media Transparency: Prescriptions, Principles, and Processes for Advertisers

July 18, 2016

By Bill Duggan

In June, K2 Intelligence issued their report, commissioned by ANA, titled, “An Independent Study of Media Transparency in the U.S. Advertising Industry.” K2 found substantial evidence of non-transparent business practices in the U.S. market in the form of rebates as well as substantial evidence of potentially problematic agency conduct concealed by principal transactions.

Today ANA and Ebiquity/FirmDecisions have issued the much anticipated follow-up report titled, “Media Transparency: Prescriptions, Principles, and Processes for Advertisers,” which offer a number of recommendations. These recommendations will reduce/eliminate the potential conflicts in the media practices identified in the K2 Intelligence report, thereby elevating transparency and providing a stronger foundation for trust between advertisers and their agencies. In summary, seven strategic platforms are recommended for advertisers:

  1. Agent versus Principal: Where the advertiser agrees to the agency acting as a principal, the advertiser should have disciplined, reliable processes to manage the potential conflict of interest.
  2. Contract Content: Advertisers should ensure that contracts with their media agencies contain robust provisions to deliver full transparency.
  3. Contract Audit Rights: Advertisers should have robust and far-reaching audit rights which allow them to fully track contract compliance and measure media value delivery.
  4. Contract Governance: Advertisers should implement strong, disciplined internal processes to deliver contracts which ensure strict accountability, compliance with effective management principles, rigorous process governance, and significant senior management oversight.
  5. Data and Technology: Advertisers should take ownership of data and exert control over the media technology used on their behalf.
  6. Advertiser Responsibilities: Advertisers are responsible for more active stewardship of their media investments and fair compensation of their agency partners.
  7. Code of Conduct: Advertisers and media agencies should establish a culture of trust in their relationships via a specific code of conduct. 

“Media Transparency: Prescriptions, Principles, and Processes for Advertisers” is available on the ANA website at

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