Is It Time For A Media-Buying Bill Of Rights?

As Americans, we sometimes take our rights for granted. But should U.S. planners, buyers and their clients also have certain inalienable rights?

That’s a question that was put to a group of industry executives on both the buy and the sell sides of the cross-platform television marketplace this week during one of Simulmedia’s periodic Salon events.

Specifically, they discussed the merits of advancing a draft of an "Advertisers' Bill of Rights" proposed by Simulmedia CEO (and MediaPost columnist) Dave Morgan to ensure transparency in streaming and linear TV advertising buys.

It should be no surprise that Morgan, who began his career as a First Amendment lawyer before becoming an ad-tech entrepreneur, would use a Constitutional metaphor to advance the idea.

What is surprising is the five amendments included in the bill. It was surprising to me, anyway, given that they should be fundamental principles for any advertising buy, not just cross-platform ones:

  • Advertisers have the right to know the programs, networks, services and apps where their ads appear.
  • Advertisers have the right to know the devices on which their ads are viewed.
  • Advertisers have the right to know the sources, composition and methodologies of the data and models used to target and measure their ads.
  • Advertisers have the right to independent, transparent, accredited, third-party measurement of their campaigns.
  • Advertisers have the right to verify that their ads are being viewed by real users and not bots or fraudulent sources.



"A lot of suppliers in CTV won’t tell you the show your ad is on," Morgan told PBI before Tuesday evening's rollout of the bill, adding: Even if you bought rotators in DR you'd know what shows your ads ran on."

Morgan said the goal is not necessarily to codify the elements of the bill as rigid industry standard, but to get the discussion going -- and who knows, maybe some buyers and sellers might even tie them in contractually.

I found the concept interesting coming on the heels of the Association of National Advertisers' recent release of the first phase of its programmatic transparency report, which found some similarly basic things aren't even part of the contracts advertisers have with their programmatic suppliers, like actually having access to the log files of where, when and to whom their ads were served.

In a recent interview I published with Kroll Regional Managing Director of North America Forensic Investigations and Intelligence Richard Plansky, one of the authors of the ANA report, he attributed these breakdowns to "information asymmetry" and "misaligned incentives," and after reading Simulmedia's new bill, I'm thinking the same things pertain to the burgeoning CTV marketplace.

I'd probably be stretching the metaphor if I called Simulmedia's salon (see below) akin to the Constitutional Convention, but it's a start.

6 comments about "Is It Time For A Media-Buying Bill Of Rights?".
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  1. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics, September 21, 2023 at 4:42 p.m.

    Stand up for your rights.  Bob Marley got it.  Do we?

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 21, 2023 at 5:46 p.m.

    Dave's "bill of rights" seems to apply mostly to digital media buys. But taking it in the positive spirit it was, no doubt, intended there's something missing that applies to all media, includng "legacy TV". What about, "Advertisers have the right to see evidence that their ads are watched, listened to or read". I'm not referring to whether the consumer is convinced by the ad message or sold by it's proposition as that goes way beyond the role of any media seller. I'm talking about ad exposure in the literal not the theoretical sense---not "impresions" which aren't really impressions, but some measure of attentiveness. 

  3. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, September 21, 2023 at 9:47 p.m.

    Joe, I basically with your "Rights". There should be "Rights" for the legitimete publishers as well.  As you and the Media Post team know well, I am the original plaintiff in the Google class-action lawsuit. I have been abused and maybe criminal laws were violated. This shouldn't be happening but is.  In my "Rgiths' there will be no blacklisting of publishers. No placing of websites in categories of that misrepresent their markets. (I was placed in the "Gambling" category". The "Right" to give the advertisers the option of non-programmatic ad placement. The "Right" to give advertiser under market going rates directly. The 'Right" to present to the advertisers the true about our websites, what we do, and why we would be a good mix for their products and services. The Right to consider Google and others as "Ad Distributors" and no other attached rules or requirements that restricts the free flow of advertising trades or transactions between the advertisers and websites. The Right to have live customer service furnished by Ad Distributors.  The Right for all websites to be considered equal by IAB. this is a start.

  4. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, September 22, 2023 at 6 a.m.

    Ed, for sure, the intent of the Rights is to ensure that digital/streaming video buys give transparency that is more akin to what we've genally also seen in linear. But, it also applies to linear and in many areas, particulalry in broadcast and local TV, it calls for deeper transparency in areas of measurement particularly.

  5. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, September 22, 2023 at 12:07 p.m.

    Interesting that media buyers are demanding rights, and these all seem reasonable, but every bit of legislation offering "we the people" the right to opt out and do not track, or provide transparency about how our data is being shared or used is always shot down.

    Maybe the media buyers are finally understanding what it's like to be a consumer without any rights?

  6. Michelle Strom from Strom & Nelsen Strategic Marketing, Inc., September 22, 2023 at 1:55 p.m.

    This is excellent! Transparency, integrity, respect for the consumer (and all parties) and common sense are needed in our industry. 

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