It’s been slightly over a year since the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) released its report with K2 Intelligence on the state of media transparency in the U.S. ad industry.
The report identified the extent to which the industry adheres to a tangle of murky, non-transparent practices involving kickbacks, incentives, rebate, and fees that aren’t disclosed.
Since the findings were released, the four media buying holding companies—WPP, IPG, Omnicom, and Publicis—criticized the report and denied wrongdoing.
Over the course of the year, some media buying agencies have examined their practices and made moves to ensure transparency.
Three ad-tech executives weighed in on that progress:
“Issues of transparency have continualy plagued the advertising industry over the last year. While many lofty statements have been made by brands and agencies alike, marketers still need to reclaim power and embrace technology that can give them what they want—transparency, efficiency, effect and speed—rather than settling for the opaque and antiquated services that they receive today,” said Henrik Busch, Blackwood Seven's managing director and co-founder.
“Ultimately, the industry has hit a roadblock, with no real disruptions made in the last 10 to 15 years. If there is to be any positive movement with respect to transparency and fraud issues, it is vital that advertisers take ownership of their ad technology, and together with publishers, continue to push for better industry standards,” Busch said.
“A transparent and direct marketplace is the only marketplace that can scale and survive in the long-term,” said John Donahue, Sonobi's chief product & marketing officer. “Some of our partners are pushing hard on this front along with us to ensure that a direct, fair, and transparent market is the only market that continues to be invested in. We’re working with them to allow direct remittance, to ensure margin erosion and hidden fees that are called out in the report are eradicated.”
Jason Beckerman, CEO and co-Founder, Unified, said marketers have taken the findings of the ANA report seriously and are paying more attention to the concept of data ownership. However, he said: “There is far less action than there should be. When you look at Mary Meeker's report, it's clear that ad dollars are moving quickly to the social ecosystem, and this is an area that needs way more focus from brands.
He added: "Today, more than half of marketers do not have any transparency into or control of their social advertising data sets. This makes brands incredibly beholden to their agency partners, limiting data portability, and putting their overall business return on ad spend at grave risk.”