10 Production Transparency Recommendations for Advertisers

August 16, 2017

By Bill Duggan



On August 9, the ANA released the report, "Production Transparency in the U.S. Advertising Industry.” A key conclusion of the report is that production transparency concerns exist at multiple agencies and holding companies. The report provided ten recommendations for advertisers — some very simple — to address these issues.

  1. Advertisers should be aware that many agencies have in-house production/editorial and music resources. Every advertiser should know, by name, the specific in-house resources for their holding companies, agencies, and affiliates.
  2. Advertisers should require agency disclosure, prior to bidding, when an in-house production or music resource is being considered for a project. When in-house facilities are part of the competitive bidding, establish protocols to avoid conflicts of interest.
    • Require all bidders to read and sign a statement as part of their bid indicating that they have participated in an open and fair bidding process and that they are not aware of any illicit bidding behavior.
    • Have all bids sent directly to a third party (e.g., production consultant) or advertiser staff person first, who should then share them with the agency producer.
  3. Advertisers should review production bid specifications and scope prior to the specs being submitted to vendors. Advertisers should also see originally submitted vendor estimates and invoices (to pre-empt the opportunity for markup).
  4. Advertiser questions to discuss with agencies:
    • How is the advertiser kept informed of agency in-house production resources being involved in the bidding or execution process?
    • Who are preferred providers, and why?
    • What controls are in place at the agency to ensure fair and transparent agency production servicing?
  5. Be aware that state commercial production incentives can offer significant savings when production occurs in specific states.
  6. Review and update creative agency contracts. ANA’s general counsel, Reed Smith LLP, has developed recommended approaches for creative agency contracts to address production transparency issues.
  7. Trust but verify. Use compliance reviews from an independent, qualified, objective auditor to ensure that contractual terms are being met by agencies and third-party producers and editors.
  8. To supplement the contract — which will be written from a legal perspective — develop and publish formal production guidelines which detail client policies related to production and expectations of the agency as well as of third-party producers and editors.
  9. Involve procurement. Procurement can be a great internal partner to establish guidelines and monitor practices for production transparency.
  10. Advertisers must understand that there is a direct correlation between the level of transparency and level of control taken by the advertiser — the more control, the more transparency. To ensure transparency, it is critical for advertisers to take a proactive role.

Read the full report for more.

You must be logged in to submit a comment.