ANA Calls 4A's Principles 'Premature,' Demands Apology

In response to the 4A’s publication of its own, unilateral transparency principles, the Association of National Advertisers Friday issued a statement that called them “premature” and said they fail to “fully or adequately reflect the best interests of marketers.”

The ANA, which is conducting its own independent review of the ad industry’s transparency practices, made the following points to its members:

  • At its core, transparency is about marketers’ ability to “follow the money.” With the growing complexity of the media supply chain and the increasing use of programmatic buying, marketers risk knowing less and less about the actual deployment and fundamental return on marketing and media investments. Marketers should press their agency partners for full financial disclosure and far more robust audit rights — which includes holding companies. Marketers should know how every dollar is deployed and the effectiveness of every one of their media investments.

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    Marketers should have a complete understanding as to whether their media partners are acting as agents or as principals. That is critical to understanding agency priorities. When the partner is acting as principal, the marketer must be fully aware that there could be occasions when the agency has placed its own interests ahead of the client’s. Marketers need to be sensitive to this distinction — and often they are not.

  • By late spring, 2016, K2 Intelligence and Ebiquity/Firm Decisions will issue the findings of their industry assessment. We expect that the report will be accompanied by specific recommendations for the ANA as we create a set of transparency principles that are grounded in actual facts and data. As K2 and Ebiquity continue their assessment, the ANA calls upon industry executives with relevant insights to confidentially come forward and volunteer their perspectives. Anonymity and confidentiality are paramount in this process. Individuals can contact K2 Intelligence by calling 800.645.3083 or

  • It was inappropriate that the 4A’s issued its press release with the unauthorized use of ANA member company names. That use implies that the ANA and the companies named in the release endorse the principles of the 4A’s — which they do not. The ANA requests that their names be removed from the website of the 4A’s, followed by apologies to the companies it unfortunately identified.
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