The two will also look at how the media landscape can be demystified, an approach seen as critical to developing longer-term transparent business practices.
K2 Intelligence specializes in complex business and industry assessments, business intelligence, and data analytics, while Ebiquity/FirmDecisions is a marketing performance specialist.
"We believe ANA's objectives will be best facilitated by combining a company that specializes in business examination and fact-finding with a firm that knows the industry and has superb awareness of media transparency issues," said Bob Liodice, ANA president and CEO.
The ANA's project calls for a multi-phased approach, with the first phase focusing primarily on domestic and global fact-finding via confidential interviews with senior ecosystem executives and other business intelligence processes.
The ultimate objective is to elevate trust and confidence throughout the media-buying supply chain.
The provision of a clarifying perspective on the current state of transparency is regarded as forming a foundation on which solutions can be advanced and longer-term quality business practices developed.
The study will also give an industry perspective on non-transparent behaviours, such as rebates, barter, arbitrage, dark pools, inventory management, global transactions, and supply chain media management.
Other aspects to be assessed include the quality of the media-planning process and marketers' practices and processes. The ANA believes that marketers should have the same level of scrutiny as the balance of the media supply chain.
The ANA expects that this research will help develop practical solutions and best-practice behaviours that can serve as industry standards.
The work marks the culmination of a process that began three years ago when undisclosed media rebates were brought to light and it became apparent that many marketers in the US had never heard of these or did not know that rebates were a part of their companies' media-buying process.
ANA member surveys subsequently showed rapidly growing concerns about transparency across a variety of business practices.
Data sourced from ANA; additional content by Warc staff