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Ad fraud and transparency issues force a crack down on media agency management finds WFA

Major questions over ad fraud, transparency and measurability have forced seven-out-of-10 brands to make major changes to their media agency management, a World Federation of Advertisers study has revealed.

In moves the WFA believes have been triggered by investigations by the Association of National Advertisers in the US which revealed widespread concerns by brands over the loss of controls over their media spending, the federation said companies were reporting a crackdown on their agencies and their practices.

The WFA said 35 companies representing more than $US30b in global spending said they had already made or were planning to make extensive changes to their media governance practices.

Locally, a spokesperson for the AANA said the survey findings mirrored what was being experienced in Australia.

“The WFA survey was conducted at a global level but the results do mirror what is happening locally,” The spokesperson said.

“Transparency in media buying remains a major concern here and our members tell us that initiatives such as our Media Contract Template and Guidelines for Transparency have been very useful in this regard.

“In terms of building capability, we’ve had very good feedback on the events we facilitated for our members to help them learn more about global best practice.  We will continue to focus on transparency in media buying and more robust measures to deliver accountability and independent measurement in all media buying because, as the WFA survey shows, there is still much work to be done.”

According to the WFA study, which included marketers with brands in APAC, Europe and North America, transparency remains the biggest concern with 47%  of companies, while 51% said it was becoming an increasing priority.

Brand safety was also seen as a major issue with 70% of respondents saying it has escalated as an issue in the past 12 months.

The survey found that in the past 12 months more than 51% of brands said they had included specific audit right clauses in contracts, while more than 50% had also added contract clauses for the returns of media income in the form of rebates.

More than 40% have added clauses to ensure the return of incentives handed to agencies by media companies.

The rising influence of programmatic has also been highlighted as a concern with brands, with 41% having conducted a programmatic review and a further 35% planning to undertake such a review.

The issue of viewability has revealed many brands are bringing in third parties to track viewability, with 57% recently adopting the measures.

Nearly half of brands have also addressed the rising problem of brand safety, which flashed into the headlines earlier this year, with 49% saying they had adopted whitelists or blacklists defining where the brand could or could not appear.

“54% have worked with third-party verification companies to monitor the environment in which their ads appear and a further 20% also plan to do this,” the survey said.

Robert Dreblow, head of marketing services at the WFA said the survey results were a reflection of the ongoing drive for brands to be given better information by their agencies.

“The WFA has long championed the need for clear and transparent relationships between brands and their agency partners,” Dreblow said.

“Last year’s ANA report was a catalyst for a new wave of action by brands not just in the US but around the world, addressing many of the media issues that our members have highlighted including brand safety and ad fraud.”

The two-part ANA report, released a year ago, lashed media agencies for a lack of transparency, receiving kickbacks and rebates and called for media agencies to be forced to declare all conflicts of interest and allow brand.

 

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