Advertisers demand greater transparency

By Leon Gettler >>

TRANSPARENCY has become more relevant than ever before in the advertising and media industries, according to Dale Garvie, managing director of FirmDecisions.

FirmDecisions is regarded as the largest independent global marketing contract compliance specialist, providing advertisers with transparency into their marketing and media agencies.

Mr Garvie said the issue of transparency in contracts needed to be sorted out.

“When we talk about transparency in contracts, what we’re really referring to is full visibility of the supply chain relevant to advertising,” Mr Garvie told Talking Business. “So if you[re an advertiser and you have media partners, transparency expectations of those media partners are that you know where your purchasing is coming from, both in terms of cost disclosure and whether it’s valid media and not fake traffic.

“Transparency is a buzzword in the industry that’s widely used but it can mean many things to so many different people.”

It means a lot to so many different suppliers in the industry – sale promotion people, event management specialists, design experts, public relations practitioners, media agencies, ad tech and the media itself


Mr Garvie said media counts for the biggest proportion of ad spend by advertisers, taking up a large part of the $1 trillion ad spend budgets.

The problem is, it has become much more complicated. 

“Historically, advertising was relatively simple. Everyone was watching TV, reading newspapers, pretty straight forward,” Mr Garvie said.

“Fast-forward to today’s world with mobile and digital and there are a lot more media providers with advertising playing through the supply chain,” he said.

“With social influencers, for example, that form of marketing didn’t exist years but it’s on the rise now. As the industry changes, there are more players beyond media, and transparency of all those players, how they manage advertiser budgets is critically important.”

He said his business FirmDecisions specialises in auditing advertising agency contracts.

“It’ll tell you there are a lot of improvements to be made within those contracts. Periodically we find unspent funds that the advertiser has placed with these agencies and there’s a lack of reconciliation so these agencies may charge on estimate and the actual cost for that activity may come in a lot less and the balance may be retained on the agency side,” he said.


Mr Garvie said transparency was important for both sides, for the agencies and the advertisers and the clients they represent.

It becomes even more critical now with all the different marketing touchpoints and the growing power of third party influencer being brought in by agencies.

He said advertisers are now demanding transparency in this market and there is now some sort of standard that advertisers are adopting.

“At the end of the day, the market place has to react,” Mr Garvie said. “If they want to compete for advertiser dollars and transparency is a key focus in building trust and confidence in where those dollars are spent, naturally agencies will comply and sign up to those terms.”

However, both sides need to vigilant because services and the market place are evolving.

He said  his firm now advises clients to review their contracts every year. It is no longer sufficient to review contracts as these are audited and tested annually.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


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