DANA POINT, CA: Agencies and brands have more work to do in addressing the troubling issue of media rebates, a leading executive from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has suggested.

Bill Duggan, the ANA's Executive Vice President, discussed this subject during a session at the organisation's 2017 Brand Masters Conference.

More specifically, he built on research in its "Media Transparency: Prescriptions, Principles and Processes for Advertisers" report, which was published last year, and warned of a "fundamental disconnect" in the advertiser/agency relationship.

This research put forth "substantial evidence" of rebates given from media owners to agencies – a point that has been contested by the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies).

"The 4A's [American Association of Advertising Agencies] and the agency community overall have continued to publicly deny the findings of the 'Media Transparency' report," said Duggan. (For more, read Warc's exclusive article: ANA confronts Brand Masters with rebates.)

While arguing that agencies should be more proactive in the discussion, and problem-solving, around rebates, Duggan also had a word for client-side marketers.

Disciplines like programmatic advertising, he suggested, are opaque – and thus demand closer scrutiny from many brand custodians to make sure their money is being put to work in the right ways.

"It's still really amazing to me," Duggan told the Brand Masters assembly, "the number of senior-level people who aren't aware of the practice. There's so much mystery to programmatic ... And where there's mystery, there's margin."

Resolving these problems, in the first instance, will require achieving greater openness regarding the exact contractual terms where media spending is concerned.

"Transparency is commonly defined, in a business context, as the full disclosure of relevant information required for informed and intelligent decision-making; it is also distinguished by the lack of hidden agendas and conditions," Duggan said.

"A non-transparent business practice is one in which relevant information is not disclosed or intentionally obscured from one party to a transaction."

Data sourced from Warc