The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has published a set of transparency guidelines following its controversial report into agencies’ “pervasive” use of rebates.
The US trade body last month published an investigation it carried out in collaboration with investigative firm K2 Intelligence that argued there was a “fundamental disconnect” between US advertisers and agency partners, but refused to single out offending companies.
Implications that agencies were not passing on rebates from publishers to clients in order to boost their profits caused a fierce backlash from media agencies.
Denstu Aegis Nework chief executive Jerry Buhlmann labelled it an “insubstantive report with subjective methodologies and anonymous input”.
The ANA says its K2 Intelligence report has been a “serious wake-up call for the industry” but claims there is “good news” because the second stage of the report, produced in collaboration with Ebiquity and Firm Decisions, shows the “deterioration” of the client and agency relationship can be reversed.
Guidelines are based around the following three key pillars:
- Advertisers should establish overarching media agency management principles that can be easily understood and executed.
- Advertisers should establish primacy over the client/agency relationship. Advertisers should regularly re-evaluate and upgrade internal processes and practices.
- Advertisers and agencies should have a uniform Code of Conduct to guide the relationship and engender trust.
The release of the guidelines has already split industry opinion.
Ciaran O’Kane, founder and chief executive of ad tech firm ExchangeWire, took to Twitter to hit out at the report.
He said: “Unbelievable that @ebiquitydigital and the @ANAmarketers won’t discuss renumeration publicly. Agencies do rebates because model is broken.”
However, ID Comms co-founder Tom Denford said: “We welcome the publication of the long-awaited ANA Media Transparency guidelines. If advertisers adopt these guidelines then they will certainly be in a better position than they were 12 months ago.
“In that sense, the ANA have achieved their goal and done what they said they were going to do, the guidelines are sensible, reasonable, considered and fair. We highly commend the ANA for the rigorous process they have undertaken.
“We hope that, at the conclusion of the ANA media transparency investigations, this will draw a line under this difficult and toxic chapter for the industry and that advertisers and their agencies can build more productive relationships together for the future.”