Advertisers Remain Wary Over ATDs And Transparency In Media Trading

Concerns about agency transparency remain at the forefront of advertiser thinking according to a new survey conducted by the World Federation of Advertisers and the Festival of Media. The issue of transparency in media trading will feature strongly on the agenda at the Festival of Media in Switzerland with WFA members from Heineken and MasterCard debating the subject on Tuesday 17 April.

The first comprehensive look at both agency and advertiser attitudes to transparency shows the issue continues to prove divisive in key areas. Based on 70 responses from multinational advertisers and senior global representatives from media agencies, the results indicate some areas of agreement as well as signs of a clear disconnect.

Key findings:

– Advertisers are wary about some of the new ways of trading being developed for digital platforms. 84% agreed with the statement that: “Agency trading desks are a threat to transparency.” 91% of agencies disagreed.
– Both parties agreed overwhelmingly that advertisers have the right to know the actual costs charged by any media owner to any third party acting on their behalf. All advertisers and 91% of agencies agreed with this statement.
– Both agencies and advertisers are equally split as to whether auditors overstate the issue of transparency, with 55% and 53% respectively agreeing with this statement.
– Both agencies and advertisers agree that procurement helps improve transparency in media buying but while 91% of advertisers agree, just 64% of agencies agree.
– More than three-quarters of advertisers also cited media rebates as the biggest stumbling block to full transparency when asked “what is the biggest issue in the media transparency debate today?” The vast majority of clients feel that 100% of any rebate should be passed on to the advertiser.

Will DSPs encourage you to:

Said Stephan Loerke, WFA Managing Director, comments: “Advertisers want improved transparency both in existing areas of media buying and also in the new digital tools and platforms being established. There is common ground in this area and we want to establish a dialogue with agencies and media owners to address this important issue. If we can resolve these issues than it will make it much easier for agencies and advertisers to work harmoniously together for mutual benefit.”

Festival Founder and CEO of C Squared Charlie Crowe adds: “It might seem odd to many of us that transparency is still such a huge issue between advertisers and their agencies. Media has enormous value-adding capability and our Festival of Media Awards show how the fusion of great ideas and new technologies is resulting in the reformation of advertising into one of the most exciting industries in the global economy today. And yet it seems that this nettle has not been grabbed. It’s the role of the Festival of Media – and its variants across the world – to bring all the parties together in order to find a path forward that works for everyone. I hope The Festival can help the WFA in achieving this goal.”

The WFA transparency debate, involving members from Heineken and Mastercard, is taking place at the Festival of Media Global in Montreux, Switzerland from 15th to 17th April. The WFA will also be highlighting the issue of transparency and rebates as part of its Asia-Pacific Media and Marketing Network meeting in Singapore on April 25.



  • KnightDarker

    This is really interesting, thank you CS et al.

    I still struggle to understand why this industry is cost driven rather than value driven. 

    Where in the survey results (and I appreciate the above may only be a snippet) were Agencies & Clients asked about the value proposition that ATD’s or any other form of programmatic trading brings to the table? As soon as you start to discuss cost & margins over value & performance you are on the same slippery slope Agencies found themselves on in the 80’s & 90’s and remain shackled to it to this day – 15% Agency Discount.

    The “big gun” media buying agencies and their “Master & Commander’s” of all things “trading” near ruined the industry (and those that could not afford either the £50 wraps or the “members’ club fees”) through their “scratch my back” attitude to Media Owners to allow them to secure Trading Agreements and remove any form of discipline from the buying process and as such remove any vestige of understanding of the entire process from the “media buyers” agencies employ – they weren’t allowed to think value.

    There were very few that actually get it and those that do are snapped up by the clients’ they are serving. Why do the clients’ employ those that get it, because they appreciate the VALUE in doing so and where value is front of mind cost is merely a factor, it’s like adding salt to a cake recipe, no one likes the concept of salt in a sweet but when it’s baked you enjoy or appreciate the value of adding it – those that don’t cook don’t get the value of good ingredients. We are seeing a reflection of society where the consumer wants to pay as little as possible up front but then expects diamond service…not quite how the world works I’m sorry…

    For what it’s worth I believe they weren’t asked about the value ATD’s bring because those compiling the survey have absolutely no idea either about the entirety of the industry from conception to delivery.

    What will Trading Directors’ do without Trading Agreements to hide behind…and I never mentioned lumpy back-handers, tickets to rugby in Sth Africa or luxury yachts in South East Asia…

    “What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing” ~ Oscar Wilde

  • “More than three-quarters of advertisers also cited media rebates as the
    biggest stumbling block to full transparency when asked “what is the
    biggest issue in the media transparency debate today?” The vast majority
    of clients feel that 100% of any rebate should be passed on to the

    This statement is so frustrating.

    Advertisers push and push for more innovation, better targeting, efficient buying – THE NEXT BIG THING…..but they don’t want to pay for it?

    Nothing comes for free and unfortunately technology, peoples time and knowledge costs money in everything within the media industry. Publishers need to make money to continue publishing, advertisers get paid salaries to keep advertising their products.

    The alternative – advertisers do it themselves and unfortunately there is only a few geared up to do this or even begin to think about it. It’s a natural progression that I’ve seen maybe a handful of advertisers actually make ground on.

    Who do you think will help them gear up for taking it on themselves? Agencies and outside consultants.