The US Association of National Advertisers (ANA) recently held its annual Advertising Financial Management conference. The event brings together sourcing and finance professionals on the client side, together with their agency counterparts.

The only event on this topic, of this size, scale, and ambition anywhere in the world, the 2023 conference attracted more than 500 delegates and 100 presenters, across keynotes, panels, and workshops. There were four dominant themes emerging across the different strands. 

1. The cost versus benefit of media agency reviews. A comprehensive review of media agency is both cost- and time-intensive, even if it doesn’t lead to a pitch or, if there is a pitch, no change to the incumbent. Advertisers need to be clear on what they’re hoping to achieve with a review and why, balancing the cost of change with the value of stability. 

2. ESG is now well-established as a business strategy. Both advertisers and agencies are actively embracing the Environment, Sustainability, and Governance agenda as a driving force in decision making – the right thing to do for the planet and the right thing to do for business and driving growth. A good example of how ESG is being built into business strategy is the recent Ebiquity and Scope3 report The Hidden Cost of Digital Advertising (see details and link below). This has helped to established a key metric of sustainability in media: grammes of CO2 per thousand impressions. 

3. Agency compensation models are evolving fast. Indeed, they are – at last – catching up and keeping track with developments in the media and marketing ecosystem. With most advertisers spending the majority of their budgets on digital – and in particular on new forms of media, including advanced TV and retail media – this is not before time.

4. Client-side media procurement expertise is on the rise. Despite the war on talent for specialist expertise across the industry, procurement professionals in advertiser companies are rapidly upskilling and improving their knowledge base. This was very much in evidence at the ANA conference, and this matters because of the very real challenges brands face in properly measuring and assessing value from the ever-more complex marketing supply chain. 

Areas where skills are increasingly required include: data, KPI alignment across functions, attribution, effectiveness versus efficiency, retail media, and walled gardens (and associated data black holes). Cross media measurement is also an issue of growing importance, with a lot of heat, light, and debate, but few signs of consensus on total video; no unified metric of impact for connected TV, linear TV, and video, comparing ‘apples with apples’. 

New ANA Media Agency contract template 

Expert media and media agency lawyers, Reed Smith – for so many years at the heart of good practice in media law – unveiled the new model media agency contract from the ANA at the conference in Phoenix. Last updated in 2018, so much has changed in the marketing mix since then it’s fair to say an update was long overdue. 

New areas of focus include: non-transparent services and definitions of audit (contract compliance versus agency performance), as well as templates and placeholders for agency use and consideration of artificial intelligence, ESG programs, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) strategies. On AI specifically, the Reed Smith x ANA template contract requires agencies to specify explicitly if, where, and how they use it.

Ebiquity’s Global Media Management Lead, Matt Semple, has written a recent blog titled “The changing face of PRFs in media agency agreements”, addressing theme 3, above. Click here to view.

To download your copy of the Ebiquity and Scope3 report – The Hidden Cost of Digital Advertisingclick here.

To watch Lisa Niemeyer (Group Director, Client Engagement, Ebiquity North America) talking about these issues in more detail, click here.

Feel free to get in touch with the Ebiquity team to further discuss these important updates and take proactive steps to reduce wasteful practices. Reach out now.

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