MFA launches an updated framework on transparency for advertisers & agencies

The Media Federation of Australia (MFA) has released an updated framework to ensure transparency between agencies and advertisers.

The 2021 MFA Transparency Framework outlines a set of practices for both parties to follow, with updates addressing the changes to the market since the first guidelines were developed, in particular increasing changes to the digital supply chain.

The guidelines were first developed in 2015 by the MFA Board and executive. The Australian Association of National Advertisers also contributed to the content and has endorsed the Transparency Framework.

On the release of the updated Framework, CEO of the MFA, Sophie Madden, said: “MFA member agencies are particularly proactive in their efforts to increase the integrity of digital marketplaces and implement stricter standards and best-practice advertising as demonstrated by the work they’ve done to date – including the quick introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, for example. Nevertheless, transparency is an ongoing issue because of the complexity of the digital marketplace and constant, rapid technological advancements.”

The aim of the update is to set clear expectations for agencies and advertisers, and to establish clear transparency and accountability for how both sides should operate.

As part of the annual membership renewal process, MFA members are required to re-commit to the Transparency Framework. The principles in the Framework include: “Disclosure of rebates, commissions and value banks; ethics training every two years for agency personnel; auditing of agencies’ advertising spend deployment; and balanced and fair contracts.”

MFA CEO Sophie Madden

The guidelines are the cornerstone of the MFA transparency agenda, the MFA said that it is part of a “long-term program of transparency aids and activities addressing advertiser concerns around media transparency and accountability”.

As a part of this long term program, key initiatives include the Successful Agency Pitching Guide (2021), the updated Australian Digital Advertising Practices (2020, developed in partnership with the AANA and IAB), and the Best Practice Contracting Guide for Advertisers & Agencies (2019).

The principles of transparency for agencies and advertisers to follow, as set out in the MFA Transparency Framework, are: Disclosure; Education; Accountability; Sustainable Contracts.

Madden continued: “By setting out clear guidelines on how to operate, the MFA Transparency Framework is a valuable tool for both clients and agencies. The MFA will continue to update the MFA Transparency Framework in the future, to ensure it aligns with significant changes in the market.”

Madden was appointed as the MFA’s first CEO in 2012, and has been at the helm since, leading the establishment of the transparency guidelines.

In April, Madden commented on World Vision’s decision to charge a $80 tendering fee:  “The MFA does not support agencies having to pay to participate in tendering, and it’s certainly not likely to generate trust and confidence in the process itself, or contribute to a positive experience for all involved.”

The MFA was established in 1997, and has its membership represents over 90% of media agency placed billings in the country.


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