Last week, the Media Federation of Australia released a Transparency Framework presumably as a response to the alarming cases of misreporting & charging abuses by ad agencies to clients.

The transition to digital is a quantum leap from what has come before, opening up a world of techno-jargon and the ability for agency sharks to ‘baffle clients with bull$(&t’ and get away with it.

The Transparency Framework is a step in the right direction to make clear items agencies should disclose to clients (or in the absence of this, questions that clients should be asking of their agencies):

  • Rebates / Commissions / Kickbacks – Does the agency receive any form of cash or value compensation from a media owner for buying media through them?
  • Value Banks – Does the agency receive free media as compensation from a media owner for buying media through them?
  • Agency Trading Desks – Does the agency contractually become the media owner – allowing the agency to add a margin to all media buys?
  • Ethics Training – Are agency staff required to undertake ethics training on induction and every 24 months thereafter?

We applaud this framework and encourage anyone who is either hiring an agency (or is currently engaging an agency) to ask their agency these questions.

We at Intentional so believe in complete transparency that we would also add one more question to the above Transparency Framework:

  • The Keys – Who owns the media accounts? What happens to the account once the agency is no longer engaged?

ps. For the record, we at Intentional:

  • Believe in being platform agnostic. That is, we are platform neutral and have no inherent bias towards any media platform – our bias is towards client results. To that end, we choose to receive no cash rebates, commissions or kickbacks from any media owner for buying media through them which could colour our decision over which platforms to recommend and buy. Where rebates/commissions are offered in the form of extra media, these are passed back to the client account that ‘earned’ this commission – effectively lowering the cost of that client’s media buy.
  • We have not participated in any Value Bank activity. Were we to receive Value Banks we would not on-sell them, but similar to our policy on rebates/commissions, we would pass any extra media to the client account that ‘earned’ such Value Banks.
  • We do not run on an Agency Trading Desk model. We add zero margin to any clicks/impressions purchased on behalf of our clients.
  • We are in the process of formalising staff inductions and will introduce Ethics Training as part of this process.
  • The client owns The Keys to any account of theirs that we manage. At any point in time, the client has full access to their own media accounts.


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