Maxus global CEO admits media agency standards have not been good enough

The global CEO of WPP’s media agency, Maxus, has admitted that media agency standards of reporting and transparency have not been good enough and more needs to be done.

Pattison: "Industry standards have not been good enough"

Pattison: “Industry standards have not been good enough”

However, Lindsay Pattison said in the wake of scandals such as the local revelation of value banks and other questions about media agency practices, Maxus’ parent, Group M, is now taking a “market leading stance” on the issue.

Speaking at the AANA Reset conference in Sydney, Pattison said that there was also an urgent need for third party verification and that media platforms could no longer “mark your own homework”.

“Change at an extreme pace can bring issues,” Pattison said.

“It would be remiss of me as the only media agency speaking today not to touch on the issues of accountability, viewability and ads that are affecting us all in the industry and clouding some of those relationships.

“I think any reputable agency needs to be rigorous and transparent. I’d urge all brands to step forward and work with us to ensure they understand the challenges and the issues particularly around viewability and measurement as we are doing at our end.”

Pattison said that Group M was “taking a market leading stance on addressing the issue”.

“Advertisers are tired of paying for ads that nobody actually sees,” she said.

“Industry standards have not been good enough … to track viewability as well as brand safety and ad fraud. We’ll work with publishers including Ninemsn, MCN and The Guardian to ensure that ads meet really strict definitions so how about 100% viewability of ads in both display and video.”

Pattison said it was also important for third party verification to be developed.

“I think it’s wise not to gloat about the issues that we were facing on Facebook a couple of weeks ago but to simply reiterate that we must have third party verification; you can’t mark your own homework. We need media, digital companies and publishers to collaborate more on cross-platform measurement so together we can tackle the ambiguities facing us.”

She admitted that the “big one” was transparency.

“This is really about having a trusted relationship and having an open dialogue. Here in Australia there’s been very well reported – you have a very robust press – issues of over compliance.

“I think Group M has worked really hard at this. We are pretty confident now that we are the most compliant and transparent media company in the country with a full-time compliance team and daily compliance testing.

“I think that some people think that clients and agencies are at odds over transparency, but I need to be clear – transparency is important to the industry and the profession. We need clients and agencies to develop transparent, and crucially I think, fully understood contracts. Agencies should operate transparently and clients should understand the contracts.”


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