WFA Transparency Debate at the Festival of Media


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The issue of transparency in media trading is not a new one. In fact it is probably about as old as media buying itself. Yet the acceleration of investment in digital platforms has led to this issue, once again, rising up the industry agenda. The Festival of Media Global, in Switzerland, provided us with a platform to raise advertisers' concerns on this topic. WFA members Ian Hutchinson (Chair of the WFA's Media Committee), Benjamin Jankowski (MasterCard) and Tom Gill (Heineken) agree to take to the stage and highlight the “elephant in the room” as one tweeter described it.

Watch the debate here.

In advance of the event, WFA and the Festival organisers conducted some research amongst agencies and their clients to provide context for the discussion. Whilst the findings from that research clearly demonstrate there are many issues within the whole transparency debate, three areas stood out, as outlined in the introduction presentation shown below:

1. Media rebates, also known as AVBs.
2. Measurement: not just audience measurement but also verification of delivery e.g. in relation to ad-serving delivery.
3. Trading desks: see WFA webinar on this topic for more information:

Providing all of the solutions would have been impossible within the time-frame of a panel. Yet some suggested areas for improvement were raised.

The first was to evolve remuneration so that media agency partners were rewarded based on results e.g. value based remuneration, rather than spend i.e. commission. This approach could help to negate the need for rebates and help to promote 'platform neutral' advice from agency partners.

One of the panellists shared that he had his own trading desk. Whilst this may not be an appropriate solution for all advertisers, it was suggested that brand owners likely needed to secure more expertise in-house in relation to trading digital inventory. Just as many advertisers have internal search and social expertise.

The view of the panel was that the task of improving media transparency fell not only to the media agencies, but also to advertisers, media owners and media auditors. WFA will continue to monitor advertisers' perceptions in this area as well as seeking to inform members as to how they can achieve greater transparency, not least in relation to ad-serving and trading desks.

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