No, do ya really think so?
The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) report suggests such non-transparent practices are "pervasive" in the media buying industry. As one might suspect, ad agencies are furious. Interpublic Group described the report as "inflammatory," while Publicis Groupe said the ANA has "failed its members, advertisers, agencies, and the entire industry."
But back in 2008, Interpublic Goup settled an SEC probe over $240 million in improperly booked volume discounts from Europe. And Leo Burnett's Chicago office paid $15.5 million to settle litigation brought by the US Army alleging that it had padded its bills to the military when it "improperly submitted an invoice from its Internet division and affiliated company as third party independent contractors to increase its profit margin," according to court papers.
Obviously, marketers hailed the report; especially marketers such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever, two of the biggest advertisers in the world, which spend billions of dollars on advertising every year—P&G alone spent $4.6 billion on advertising in 2014.
"We appreciate the ANA’s diligence to study media transparency practices, particularly as technology is bringing a significant transformation in the industry. As a result of the study, it’s important that advertisers and agencies work together appropriately to deal with the changing media ecosystem," said P&G in a statement. "At P&G, we want and expect strong agency partnerships based on mutual trust, transparency and teamwork. We have a “trust but verify” approach that includes having clear and thorough stipulations in our contracts, regular audits on performance, and third party verification that ensures transparency. If we find irregularities, we will take remedial action."
"Trust and transparency are critical to any relationship, so we take the ANA’s findings very seriously. We support its work to ensure that as the media industry evolves these values remain a top priority," siad Di-Como. "At Unilever, we are actively engaged with our agencies and the industry at large to exert greater control and responsibility around media transparency. We go to great lengths to make certain that our proprietary procedures and policies maximize our investments and fulfill our contracts, in both the letter and spirit. We’re confident the right steps will be taken to strengthen our industry."