Flock Associates, the Marketing Transformation Consultancy who work with major blue chip marketers around the world, have reviewed the “Independent study of Media Transparency in the U.S. Advertising Industry” commissioned by the ANA (Association of National Advertisers in the USA) and conclude that many, if not all of the oft reported but never before substantiated claims about media and digital transparency are now a proven fact in the US market. Download the report here.
Flock Associates has advised and will continue to advise its clients to be vigilant and strict in contract terms and conditions, with a focus on fair and transparent clauses that serve marketers’ best interests.
The report makes it abundantly clear that marketers sell themselves short if they do not address all the finer detail of contracts and do not track or monitor compliance to the contract through financial and delivery auditing (for the avoidance of doubt: these are not services Flock Associates provides, so we are saying this without any self-serving interest). It makes clear that those responsible for negotiating and signing contracts with the media agency and holding companies must a have a solid and detailed understanding of the practices that are part and parcel of the advertising industry.
We also have sympathy for the section in the report that addresses the fact that marketers may in individual cases be potentially part of the problem. Chapter 5 of the report explains that some marketers are so focused on low cost or significantly long payment terms that the agency holding companies feel compelled to address the losses on these clients via other sources of income. Flock Associates believes that some of these claims in individual cases may have some merit and those marketers that choose to push for lowest cost and significantly long payment terms may have to live with terms that allow the media agency to ensure the desired contractual terms are financially viable for the contract partners. This is a business decision between partners that should however be delivered in full disclosure, something that is clearly not (always) the case today.
The most important aspect of ensuring marketers get best results from their agency relationships is the marketers’ ability to lead, direct and evaluate their agency partners through a fit-for-purpose marketing process and with capabilities and skills that ensure marketers and agencies can work as equal partners.
Flock Associates believes that the recent media agency contract guidance from ANA’s sister organization ISBA in the UK is a good starting point for such a contract, but there are significant enhancements and options available that should be considered. Similarly, the World Federation of Advertisers have issued some very useful guidance that address Programmatic and Digital Media.
The ANA have announced that they will be issuing their own contract guidance in the near future, an initiative Flock Associates welcomes and supports.
Maarten Albarda, CEO of Flock USA, said of the report:
“It is one thing to know where the bodies are buried, another to dig them up, and another thing entirely knowing what to do with the corpse. One clear outcome from this report is that advertisers must have a plan for managing media that encompasses not just the briefing and the post-buy, but also in-house expertise, consultancies, technologies, data, and agency resources needed in today’s “always on” environment. And with that the contracts, payment schemes, and appraisal schemes required to enable and liberate strong partnerships”
If you’d like to chat over the report in person, get in touch with Maarten here.