Advertisers and agencies split on media buying transparency

12 April 2012

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12 April 2012 | Anna Scott

Advertisers and media agencies are divided over the issue of transparency in media trading.

According to a survey by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and the Festival of Media, the majority of advertisers (84 per cent) agreed with the statement: “Agency trading desks [responsible for buying ad space] are a threat to transparency”.

However, just 8 per cent of agencies were in agreement.

Last month, the WFA said details of rebates paid by media owners to advertising agencies booking space with them should be disclosed to advertisers to establish whether they are getting value for money.

Unsurprisingly, all of the advertisers surveyed by the WFA agreed they have the right to know the actual costs charged by media owners to any third-party acting on their behalf, as did the agencies (91 per cent).  The vast majority of advertisers feel that 100 per cent of any rebate should be passed on to them. But more than three quarters of them cited media rebates as the biggest stumbling block to full transparency.

While there was some level of agreement that procurement can help improve transparency in media buying, it was by no means unanimous, with 91 per cent of advertisers agreeing, compared with 64 per cent of agencies.

The 70 multinational advertisers and global media agency representatives who responded to the survey were equally split as to whether auditors overstate the issue of transparency, with 55 per cent and 53 per cent respectively agreeing with this.

There was also concern over new ways of trading being developed for digital platforms.

“Advertisers want improved transparency both in existing areas of media buying and also in the new digital tools and platforms being established,” said Stephan Loerke, WFA’s managing director.

“There is common ground in this area and we want to establish a dialogue with agencies and media owners to address this important issue. If we can resolve these issues, then it will make it much easier for agencies and advertisers to work harmoniously together for mutual benefit.”

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