ANA Report on Media Transparency: Our Take

  • Categories:

    Paid Media

  • Date:

    July 07, 2016

ANA Report on Media Transparency: Our Take

Paid Media

On June 7 the agency auditing firm K2 Intelligence issued on behalf of the ANA a scathing report regarding transparency in the U.S. advertising industry, specifically as it pertains to paid media practices.  

The report, titled An Independent Study of Media Transparency in the U.S. Advertising Industry, details insider knowledge of unknown media mark-ups, undocumented practices and media rebates that are not passed through to advertisers.

The report is one-sided and shrouded in anonymous sources. Still, it is sure to give advertisers pause and erode the hard-earned trust between advertisers and agencies.

As a midsize, privately owned agency, Wray Ward is far from the influence of international ad agency holding companies, their collective media buying power, and agency trading desks that are driving many of these less-than-transparent practices.

At Wray Ward, our core business philosophy is based on partnership with our clients. And, we believe it’s impossible to have true partnership without transparency. 

Our typical media contract contains no mark-up or commissions on paid media costs. Our media team provides immense value in strategy, planning and negotiating the best rates and programs for our clients, and those services are paid for through transparent and agreed upon fees. The savings and value-added opportunities we are able to attain are always passed directly to our clients.

During the past decade, media planning, buying and trafficking have changed substantially, and we’ve certainly kept up with the times. Whether working with third-party ad serving networks, programmatic platforms, social media, trading desks or even in paid search, we have developed policies and procedures that ensure the best possible rates are always passed directly on to our clients without hidden mark-ups, fees or rebates.

We do this because we believe we are bound by a duty to deliver the best possible results for our clients. We see ourselves as part of a team. And, we act like it. That’s one reason we have multiple client relationships that have lasted longer than 15 years.

I encourage everyone in our industry to read the 60-page ANA report. If you read the ad trades regularly, nothing in the report will be too shocking. But, it is an interesting look at some tactics and business practices that aren’t well understood – like agency trading desks, programmatic buying practices, ad fraud, and bulk media purchases at the holding company level.

If you’re responsible for planning or buying media, you should be educated on these issues and insist on transparency in the media business, especially as more and more inventory is being bought and sold through programmatic platforms.


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