Media Transparency

ANA would like to share with the industry some of our high-level learnings to date on transparency. These come from ANA's proprietary research with our members, and perspective from WFA (our sister global industry trade association).

Going forward, ANA will continue our work to help bring greater understanding to the media marketplace regarding transparency concerns.

ANA/Forrester

Media Buying's Evolution Challenges Marketers (2014)

Almost half of the marketers that responded to the survey expressed concern about transparency of media buys, and that concern has grown in the past year.

  • Forty-six percent have concerns about the level of transparency "between you, as the client, and your media agency or agencies."
  • Further, among those with concerns, 42 percent say concerns about transparency have increased over the past year.

Among a list of thirteen possible issues, "media rebates to agencies" ranked second highest in terms of "transparency concerns," behind only served versus viewed impressions.

The 2014 study fueled the formation of ANA's Media Transparency Task Force, consisting of representatives from more than twenty ANA members. Its purpose is to examine the scope of potential transparency issues and to develop pathways to long term solutions. Rebates and programmatic are the initial focus of the task force.

WFA (World Federation of Advertisers) Perspective

Five Priorities for Media Directors in 2015 (February, 2015)

Transparency is one of those five 2015 priorities and WFA says:

"Traditionally the marketers' concern about transparency has been the heady and contentious issue of rebates – but more recently, as everyone will be aware, the issue has been focused around what actually goes on in programmatic platforms."

For the WFA global marketers, the key challenge is to understand both the technology costs, as well as how the price they pay for an impression trickles down the stack.

Ultimately, the solution in programmatic may require some to develop a different relationship with media owners to their partners. Our recent report on programmatic suggests the future for some may be a Brand Trading Desk model, through which vendors are appointed directly by the client and direct contractual terms are established.

Global Media Transparency Index (2014)

The purpose of this research is to identify and highlight the countries with lower levels of media market transparency, the factors responsible for limiting advertiser visibility, and the safeguards that can be put in place.

Media transparency has been a growing concern for WFA members and was rated as a high priority for 94 percent of the MEDIAFORUM (2014 priorities survey). WFA has been providing research on aggregate global rebate levels for several years, and although this is at the heart of the transparency agenda, there are many more considerations to be taken into account when judging the level of visibility we have into a media market.

In this report, WFA notes that while absolute volumes of rebates in the U.S. are perceived to be very low, over half of U.S. rebates are typically retained by agencies, making it one of the "worst offending markets" in the index. While this report has not been made public, more information is available in this WFA blog.