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Mediacom audit: GroupM tightens up procedures on campaign reporting to clients

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Auditor: Prior

GroupM is overhauling its processes and procedures following recommendations from an audit of media agency Mediacom which raised issues over how it works with clients.

The EY investigation into staff manipulating TV reporting numbers has led to the creation of a three-person Australian compliance team, headed by chief investment officer Danny Bass.

The man who led the audit Tony Prior, EY’s director of fraud investigation and dispute services, said: “One of the key findings from our audit was that there are a lot of issues around document and version control.

“The level of formality of the agreement struck with the client varied from very informal to the more traditional formal (communication). It could be an SMS, an email or a phone call.

“The ability to lock down the final reports in a way that could not be altered was not in place.”

One of the major changes means staff will only be able to access post campaign reports with permission from the compliance team and their agency head, with new software to be introduced later across its agencies nationally to help ensure there can be no repeat of the long term misreporting that occurred within Mediacom.

Pejic

Pejic

That misreporting occurred by staff accessing reports and changing client set targets on TV audiences to match the lower finalised audience data from OzTam.

“At the heart of this if you think back to its most basic form people have manipulated the post campaign results,” said Mediacom CEO Pejic in a media briefing.

He said that in future, agreed campaign targets will be shared as locked PDF files so they cannot easily be edited. He said: “What we are saying is that that was open to manipulation but is no longer open to manipulation because the raw files will be PDFed.”

He said the new software would track campaigns from start to finish, adding: “That will mean at no stage of a campaign’s life stage can any of the numbers be manipulated through this.

“That will be rolled out across all four companies with the group and will mean 750 employees in the group will have to be upskilled and trained in it.”

GroupM will also seek to formally record all agreed changes to booking agreements with clients .

“Clients are sending in text messages or an email saying book it or even saying it verbally over the phone,” said John Steedman, chairman of GroupM.

“Now they can still do that but they have to confirm it… so it is on record.”

Nic Christensen

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