Media Auditor John Billett, chairman of UK-based IDComms has issued a highly critical missive of a GroupM Entertainment programming deal with the UK’s Channel 4, claiming that the arrangement makes it hard if not impossible for clients and the media company to determine the ROI of client dollars supporting the deal-driven content.
Billett’s critique came in the form of a “welcome” letter written to new Channel 4 Chairman Charles Gurassa. It was first disclosed in More About Advertising, the UK trade blog. The letter addresses one deal but it’s illustrative of some of the industrywide transparency issues currently fraying agency-advertiser relationships.
Billett says the deal in question is a two-year agreement with Group M guaranteeing a large sum of its clients’ advertising money to Channel 4 with reciprocal arrangements for Group M to provide programs to Channel 4 in return.
Such agreements, alleged Billett were banned by regulation years ago and “make it impossible for the advertiser to understand fully the true value of the deal they are being asked to fund and will be unable to audit it sufficiently unless Channel 4 are able to disclose the full value and details of the programming portion of the agreement with Group M.”
Channel 4 and GroupM dismissed the concerns, essentially saying Billett misunderstands the deal’s particulars (which they aren’t disclosing). “GroupM acts as a co-financing/production partner for a small number of shows that we wish to commission from independent producers, allowing us to invest more into delivering our remit,” stated Channel 4.
And GroupM echoed the Channel 4 response, adding that “clients of Group M agencies receive a consistent benefit in the form of favorable media pricing which GME is able to offer to clients in our group on an opt-in basis, if it fits in their media plans. Clients can and do regularly audit their media agencies’ performance, and we welcome this transparency.”
The full story can be read here.