The decision by the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) to commission a study looking into how media is purchased by agencies for advertisers ensures the continued conversation revolving around rebates, arbitrage and anything else of that nature.
It also all but guarantees that programmatic players will be included in the conversation like never before.
MediaPost Agency Daily has the scoop on the planned “wide-ranging study,” and while nothing is set in stone at the moment, odds are that programmatic tech companies and agency trading desks will be included in the study.
Real-Time Daily spoke with Bob Liodice, president of the ANA, about the study. He made it clear that conversations can’t be too granular at the moment. The ANA is not conducting the study themselves, and as they don’t know who will be conducting it yet, they don’t know for sure which topics will be scrutinized.
The ANA’s guidance approaches the issue from a meta level: “Look at the entire practice of how media is bought and sold.” It’s ultimately up to the hired researcher to interpret that request as they will, but Liodice said: “I would imagine, without thinking too hard about it, that it would be highly likely to include programmatic and agency trading desks.”
There is the possibility of programmatic companies and trading desks refusing to cooperate, as there is no obligation for them to speak to the ANA, but Liodice noted that he would be surprised if individuals or organizations didn’t cooperate.
Advertising Ageon Thursday posted an article speculating on a contract template shared between Havas and some unnamed ad tech vendors. The contract template contained vague language that raised a red flag to at least two ad tech vendors that received the template. Whether or not the vague language was intentional or a simple oversight (Havas Media Group Global Managing Director Dominique Delport claimed it was the latter) remains to be seen. But as Advertising Age noted: “The two ad-tech vendors remained skeptical about the contract.”
In the best case scenario, the vague language in the template -- which more or less said: “You’ll pay us a fee based on the volume of inventory purchased in consideration of ‘Planning Services’” -- really was a lazy oversight that will be cleaned up. In the worst case scenario, it was intentional and now a coverup is underway.
In either scenario, the industry can cheer these two unnamed ad tech vendors for “asking the right questions,” as attendees at any advertising conference are often commanded to do. The topic is clearly on the minds of everyone involved in the chain.
But it remains a murky topic nonetheless, and the ANA hopes to paint a clearer picture. Some in the industry are cautiously optimistic it will do that.
“The ANA study will only valuable if it goes all the way, leaving no stone unturned,” said Tom Triscari, CEO of Labmatik. “Anything short of this will likely result in a watered down inconclusive result leading to ineffective best practices that will likely go unpracticed.”
In short, unless the report is exhaustive, it runs the risk of complicating the subject even further.
Liodice stressed he doesn’t know exactly what the study will reveal yet, but did say that he wants to leave no “gaping holes.” As to whether or not everything can be done in one study, will require a follow up, or will require a sequence of study, Liodice said "it’s way too early to know."
But he added: “We’re spending time and money to do this, and to do it right.”