Going beyond words with Media Agency Transparency

This is the next in a series of one-minute videos that address one of the many complex challenges facing marketing, media and advertising today. The Golden Minute series is an attempt to prove Albert Einstein right when he said “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple”.

But he also said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”. So we will leave it for you to judge. Please let us know here if there is a topic you would like us to cover in a Golden Minute.

Advertisers are demanding transparency from their media agencies and media providers. But simply saying you are transparent does not make it so. In fact many are transparent about the fact they are not transparent.

If there is to be transparency in the media buying process then it is up to advertisers to make this happen. After all, there is no reason for media agencies to be transparent other than it is demanded by their clients. Even media providers do not have an incentive to be transparent other than it is demanded by their customers and therefore required to drive greater sales and revenue.

But what does it take to drive the transparency required in the media supply chain?

If you read the industry advice it is all about contract compliance and audits, but the fact is that while these are important, they will not create transparency alone. These are all ways to be able to set the transparency expectations and hopefully detect indiscretions. But it takes more to create a transparent media buying process than simple enforcing a contract.

Media agencies have made a change in the face of industry demands for transparency. Not necessarily the specific demands of their clients, but the demands of the industry associations, the trade media and the opinion writers.

The one area that media agencies have particularly adapted is in offering both disclosed and non-disclosed fee models, especially for programmatic trading. The disclosed model is completely transparent in regards to the cost of the media, any fees and mark ups and commissions and provides all of the transparency a media agency can provide.

The non-disclosed model is the opposite in every way. The media is transacted and the cost is provided with no transparency. Just the total cost. It also often comes with the promise that the media cost will be lower than the disclosed model.

This is because the media agency is able to do things like pre-purchase media inventory at heavily reduced rates and then pass it on to the client, but what they cannot do is reveal what and how those discounts are achieved because they only exist behind a cloak of secrecy – the opposite of transparency.

So there is the choice facing marketers:

  1. Embrace transparency and embrace the disclosed media fee model or
  2. Go for that guaranteed low cost media, even if it means rejecting the concept of transparency and embracing the non-disclosed model.

So what would you do?

It is interesting because anecdotally the media agencies say that their clients are more inclined to take the non-disclosed model, which infers that more advertisers put low cost ahead of transparency.

But our work with advertisers often reveals that they will have non-disclosed agreements with their media agencies without realising that the agreement is either non-disclosed or the implications associated with it including the lack of transparency.

When we explain what it really takes to have a more transparent media agency relationship, most advertisers take the disclosed model. Even if it means they end up paying more for media. But here is the kicker, it also means they get better quality, more value and high performance media.

So are you willing to go beyond simply talking about transparency?

Golden Minute Script




Simply saying the word over and over does not make you transparent

Likewise saying

We’re transparent

We’re transparent

We’re transparent

Doesn’t make you transparent either

In fact one Media Agency Group’s Global Chairman famously said: “We’re transparent about not being transparent” Clever line?

But what it means is if your media agency offers you an agreement that includes a non-disclosed media arrangement then they’re being transparent about not being transparent.

Media transparency is not easy.

It takes more than just saying you’re transparent

But with so much money at stake it is essential

So are you ready to do the work to make your media arrangements transparent?

Are you concerned about the value you are obtaining from your media investment? Find out about our comprehensive media assessment service here