Media Buying Transparency in Advertising appears to be the term and hot topic as we wind down 2016. From the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) releasing their K2 Media Transparency report in June, to the most recent “Bid Rigging” claims from the Department of Justice against the 4 major advertising holding companies, there is a renewed urgency for transparency in the media world.
Media Two is a privately held media buying agency, and as such, is not caught up in the excitement of the ad agency holding companies – but inevitably, every RFP that comes across our desk is now highlighted with requests for media transparency. Our position on transparency is, and always has been, do right by the client. We do not require AOR status, nor do we require anything more than month-to-month scopes of work – because at the end of the day, our goals are aligned with our clients goals. If we are able to deliver the ROI they are after, then we will stick around to see another day. There is nothing more transparent than delivering upon expectations and keeping the clients best interest front and center.
What has become an interesting trend however, is demanding transparency, and then not understanding what has actually been provided by each agency. As an agency, it is our job to educate the client, but in this increasingly complex digital media space with which we play in, it’s clear that the agency pitch process is flawed – as the marketer is looking for a partner in which they can trust, but in selecting such said partner, they don’t have the full expertise to make that decision. Allow me to show you an example… If you were a procurement agent, and you asked an agency for their pricing model, and our agency responded with a 15% traditional media buying commission, while “Agency 2” said they could do it at a discounted 7.5% commission – the answer appears obvious that Media Two is twice as expensive, right? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t that simple. Although both agencies buy display advertising programmatically, Media Two uses an in-house trading desk, while “Agency 2” uses an outsourced DSP. That outsourced DSP is a managed solution that typically doesn’t disclose what their mark up is, but by working with Agency 2, you’ve now incurred that unknown margin as well – sometimes as high as 40 to 60%! But because you only asked what the agencies commissions are (not inclusive of their technology partners), you are looking at 15% versus 7.5% instead of 15% versus up to 67.5%.
If you’re in the industry space like we are, it’s a no-brainer to ask these types of questions, but when a marketer is performing an RFP, it’s typically because they don’t know to ask these questions in the first place. And worse yet, as agencies, we are bound to NDA’s to not disclose our technology pricing – so unless you are using a DSP such as RocketFuel, which is a publicly traded company and you can actually dig in to see their revenues, it’s nearly impossible to be a marketer in this day and age. There are ad serving tools, attribution platforms, DSP’s, DMP’s and so many more layers that go into media that we explain to all of our clients, if you take a look at the Display Advertising Lumascape, just assume that every layer there, those technology partners are taking a slice of your overall media budgets.
Media Two’s Media Buying Transparency Policy
So with all of the unknown’s, how does a marketer know what questions to ask? Media Two has created a simple list of transparency policies to get us going down the right path to having this important conversation:
-Media Two will always focus on the clients goals, first and foremost.
-Media Two is an exclusive buying agent for our clients. We do not moonlight as a network or a publisher.
-Media Two does not subcontract out our work.
-Media Two’s media recommendations are not biased based on our vendor relationships, they are based on forecasted ROI.
-Our clients own any publisher rebates or discounts.
-Our clients have the right to full transparency to the publishers and placements for which they are running.
-Our clients have the right to see performance results for those said publishers and placements.
-Our clients own their own data – regardless of who opened up the account and currently manages it.
Some of these may seem as obvious as they come, but when you’ve been in the space almost 20 years, you tend to see everything as it relates to transparency. I’m happy to have an open conversation regarding policies – as the more marketers understand, the more the RFP playing field balances out between holding companies and specialists such as ourselves.
Our promise: When you partner with Media Two, you’ll invest wiser, succeed faster and rest easier.
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