Media auditor Ebiquity beefs up processes in wake of Mediacom reporting issues

Eric Faulkner

Eric Faulkner

Australia’s best known media auditor has changed its processes following revelations of discrepancies in how media agency Mediacom reported campaign performance to clients.

Eric Faulkner, CEO of Ebiquity, told Mumbrella he had acted immediately after concluding that the current system based on trust “is only 99 per cent reliable”. The new system will require all audits to have the planned media weights – the audience a campaign aims to reach – provided by clients rather than by agencies.

The move, which will impact every media agency in the country, comes in the wake of revelations that Australia’s second biggest media agency, MediaCom, has owned up to ‘reporting discrepancies’ in its television buying for at least three multi-million dollar clients, some of which are understood to date back up to two years. As a result the clients were told the ad campaigns had hit their targets when they may have not done so.

Ebiquity, previously known as Faulkner Media Management, audits the media buying of some of Australia’s biggest brands including two at the centre of the problem, IAG and Yum! Brands.

Faulkner told Mumbrella: “Our system as far as planned goals is concerned has been based on trust and unfortunately now that trust is only 99 per cent reliable. Clients want, need and deserve 100 per cent.”

Faulkner said by sourcing the data straight from the client it will ensure an agency or staff member whose campaign had not reached its target could not potentially change the numbers to match with the post analysis numbers provided by Oztam.

Asked why he felt it necessary to make the changes, Faulkner stressed while it was not yet clear exactly what had occurred at Mediacom, he felt it necessary to move ahead of the findings of the external audit currently being conducted by Ernst and Young at the agency.

“Without full knowledge of exactly the issues that are happening here, it is hard to be 100 per cent confident (that this would prevent misreporting), but from what I guess is the issue the answer is yes,” he said.

Asked why Ebiquity’s processes had not picked these issues up, Faulkner said he could not go into specifics around clients but said: “If I’m right in guessing what’s driving the problem – that planned ratings can be falsified because we are currently on a trust basis, where an agency could potentially send us incorrect planned media weights, this solution is the correct one for the problem.”



On Friday it emerged that MediaCom’s executive team, which includes CEO Mark Pejic, are having to explain to clients including Yum!, which has brands KFC and Pizza Hut, IAG which has NRMA in its stable and Foxtel, how discrepancies in its television reports came about.

Today it emerged another big spending client, Volkswagen, has been asking questions about its accounts at the agency to ensure the issues do not apply to its account.

There is no suggestion that Pejic was aware of the inflated claims before they came to light. Mumbrella also does not suggest that the inaccurate figures were intended to deliberately financially disadvantage the clients, although should it be found that a media agency was paid bonuses on performance which it had not achieved, then it would be likely that an agency might have to reimburse the client in some form.

Yesterday Pejic said the external audit could take “a number of weeks” to complete, adding: “I can’t speculate how long the audit period will take because I have not been in this situation before, so I am not sure.”

Nic Christensen 

Declaration: Ebquity are an advertiser with Mumbrella’s parent company Focal Attractions. 

If you have information about this story you can contact deputy editor Nic Christensen 

Any comments on this post may be subject to delay while undergoing careful legal consideration.


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