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3 ways to improve media transparency

Business people discussing market research statistics during business meeting.

The Guardian, Sky, Vodafone, and a number of advertising agencies and banks pulled all of their advertising from Google in early 2017. Why? Their adverts were appearing alongside white supremacist hate speech on YouTube. Ultimately, this happened due to a lack of media transparency.

The debate on how to improve media transparency comes as a host of marketers face headaches in ensuring such transparency. Companies are finding a lack of transparency from media agencies they’ve used, with issues such as where adverts are being placed and how much they are costing.

So how exactly can you improve this and protect the money you are investing in media marketing?

 

Use an impartial third party

One way to improve media transparency is to employ an impartial third party. For example, media audit companies such as AuditStar offer a range of services, including media audits, to create this transparency. Independently carried out media audits ensure that media agencies are fulfilling their obligations as a service supplier to advertisers.

They thoroughly assess any media agencies being used, such as through establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) for the agencies. They carry out a media audit in order to identify how and where to improve the performance of the agency. They also set incentive based KPI’s for the agencies in order to implement an efficient working process, such as by clearly defining their scope of work, team roles and responsibilities.

Additionally, they provide media training for employers to deal with the the agencies, this empowers both sides, by helping the business to understand how the agency works and do some of the explanatory work that the agency may struggle with.

 

Move your media spending in house

Another effective way to improve media transparency is hiring an in house marketing person to give you direct access to how you are spending your money. A survey carried out by the WFA (World Federation of Advertisers) discovered that 65% of brands surveyed hired internally for positions such as media directors over the last year. A number of companies have taken this step, such as Tesco employing former Mindshare executive Nick Ashley to oversee media spending and internal controls.

Alternatively, you can even develop current employers if they are likely to have suitable skills for the role. As Alessandra Di Lorenzo, Lastminute.com’s commercial officer for media and partnerships states: “by developing in-house expertise, brands will be better placed to understand how their budgets are being spent and drive greater transparency right up the supply chain.” She points to such positions as operations or trafficking experts that could make a good audience buying manager.

 

Greater communication with the agency

For many companies, employing a third party or moving your media spending in house is just not viable, for financial reasons or otherwise. It is therefore recommended in such cases that you instead find ways to communicate clearly what you want from the agency you are using, and not letting them tell you what you think you want to know.

As Alessandra Di Lorenzo contends: “As advertisers and brands get more savvy about buying media, the whole industry will have to move towards greater transparency…”, such as through “…a more honest dialogue with agencies.” By simply engaging in more honest conversations with media agencies you can go a long way to making sure they are doing what you want them to do.

Media training by third parties, even one offs, can go a long way to provide employers with expertise to deal with agencies and understand the work they do. Importantly, it helps you to understand their value. Ensuring more transparent conversations with media agencies and ultimately getting more out of the relationship will better media transparency across all businesses.

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