Thursday, June 21, 2018
  • Monday, Aug. 1, 2016
4A’s Rejects ANA/Ebiquity Guidelines On Agency-Client Relationships
Nancy Hill, president and CEO of the 4A's
  • --

While it urges transparency in media buying practices and the relationship between clients and agencies, the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies) disagrees with the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) as to how to best attain that goal. Last week Nancy Hill, president and CEO of the 4A’s, issued a statement rejecting guidelines that were developed by the ANA in conjunction with Ebiquity, an independent marketing analytics specialist, and its subsidiary, FirmDecisions.  Those guidelines came the month after the release of an ANA-commissioned assessment by K2 Intelligence that found non-transparent business practices, including cash rebates to media agencies, were pervasive in a sample of the U.S. media ad-buying ecosystem.

In Hill’s response, she wrote to 4A’s members, “Much has been written and debated in recent months regarding media transparency. Across the industry, there is agreement that trust is the bedrock of any partnership and transparency in business dealings, including media buying, is critical to fostering that trust. And there’s a common belief that it’s in everyone’s best interests--our member agencies and clients alike--to engage in productive discussions that attempt to clarify a media landscape and process that has become increasingly complex.

“We have reviewed the recommendations in the Ebiquity Report,” continued Hill, “and feel they are not all consistent with what many of you say your clients are asking for in their MSAs. We know you’re having candid conversations with your clients and we continue to believe that your contractual negotiations are best left between you and your clients. Of course, we urge transparency and recommend you use as guidance our 4A’s Transparency Guiding Principles of Conduct, which were designed to identify material media transparency questions and address them with constructive dialogue and pragmatic courses of action.”

Hill then invited 4A’s members to a Town Hall meeting on Aug. 17 at Horizon Media in NYC to discuss the situation in more detail. Key representatives from the 4A’s transparency working group who drafted the organization’s Transparency Guiding Principles of Conduct will lead the discussion, including John Montgomery, GroupM chairman of the Media Leadership Council and 4A’s board member; Kathleen Brookbanks, Omnicom Media and 4A’s board member; Scott Smith, GroupM and chair of the 4A’s Media Agency Finance Committee; 4A’s attorney David Versfelt; and Bill Tucker, EVP, 4A’s Media and Data.