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AU Advertisers Still Focused on Ad Returns & Impact: Q&A with AANA CEO John Broome

With the year at its halfway mark, advertisers in Australia remain concerned about generating greater returns and impact from their media investments.

In this regard, the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) continues to push the need for transparency and independent measurement of media effectiveness in the digital space, says its CEO John Broome.

In this Q&A with ExchangeWire, Broome discusses the role of agencies and technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), as well as how advertisers’ increasing preference to buy directly from media owners has impacted AANA’s own role.

ExchangeWire: We’re now halfway into the year. What were Australian advertisers’ main concerns and challenges in the first half and how were these addressed, or what more needs to be done to help resolve these?

John Broome: A key priority for local advertisers is to build the capability that is necessary to pursue greater returns and effectiveness from their media investments.

In March this year, together with PwC’s chief marketing officer advisory, the AANA held its ‘The Media Challenge: A Year On’ event to help advertisers address issues such as ROI, particularly in relation to getting transparency in the media buying space.

John Broome, CEO, AANA

How can industry players and ad-tech players better help Australian marketers?

By working with advertisers to get better independent, robust metrics in place and by helping to reduce the problem of ad fraud.

AANA announced plans to release the first edition of the Advertisers Sentiments Index in the fourth quarter of this year, working with Ipsos on it. How exactly will this index be formulated and why is it necessary to create one now?

The index will complement Ad Standards Bureau’s ongoing research into community sentiment and how that tallies with Ad Standards Community Panel decisions. The research results will be made available to AANA members and Ad Standards on a quarterly basis.

As custodians of the self-regulatory system, AANA needs to be sure that advertisers are informed of community expectations in relation to socially responsible advertising. This is the first time we will regularly measure what the Australian public thinks about current advertising content.

AANA also partnered PwC CMO Advisory to review and update the media contract template, amongst other initiatives. What gaps are you looking to plug to improve transparency?

AANA will continue to champion getting better, independent measurement of media effectiveness in the digital space, particularly as media spend continues to be the single biggest expense in most marketing budgets.

Amidst the call for more transparency, where do you see the role that agencies will play in helping local advertisers?

For agencies and advertisers alike, collaboration is a prerequisite for success. Parameters of value allocation need to be clearly defined and guided by the principle of open dialogue about the contractual terms that really matter.

Ultimately, the focus should lead not only to fairer contracts, but also to stronger, more enduring relationships.

AANA espouses the importance of a self-regulatory regime, but this can be tough to maintain in an increasingly omnichannel and complex landscape. How should Australian advertisers better manage this to ensure compliance and where do you see technologies such as AI and machine learning play a role?

We have very high compliance in both digital and mainstream media. There is scope for AI to help more quickly identify advertisements that may be non-compliant. That being said, the increasing migration of advertising to the digital space has led to more advertising content and, hence, increased the workload and operating costs of Ad Standards.

At the same time, there is a growing trend for advertisers to pay major publishers and digital platforms directly. This has the potential to significantly lessen the funding for self-regulation through the current collection mechanism.

Currently, advertisers supporting the self-regulatory system voluntarily pay a small levy on their media spend, which is collected on their behalf by MFA (Media Federation of Australia) media agencies. This levy funds the independent adjudication system.

To date, this mechanism has served us very well, but if the trend of buying direct from media owners and digital platforms continues, we’ll have to re-jig our funding mechanism.

This is a global challenge, so AANA will actively engage with its counterparts overseas to help develop alternative funding models. This is a long-term project, but given the way the future media landscape is going, it is only sensible to commence formal discussions now.