NEW YORK: The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) is seeking to address the "profound disagreement" about non-transparent practices in media buying by inviting senior leaders from the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) to meet in October.

In recent weeks, the two industry bodies have been engaged in a war of words concerning the frequency with which media shops pursue practices such as failing to disclose the rebates they receive and marking up resold inventory.

Bob Liodice, President/CEO of the ANA, remarked in a statement yesterday (August 4) that there "continues to be profound disagreement" regarding an "obvious US marketplace problem".

As such, he continued, the ANA "would like to invite the leaders of the 4A's Board of Directors to confer with the ANA Board at our October 19 meeting at the Masters of Marketing national conference in Orlando, Fla.

"It is our sincere hope that the leadership of our industry can confer, have an open dialogue, and create a pathway that will lead to industry consensus and collaboration."

The dispute largely relates to two studies published by the ANA. The first, released in June with investigative-consulting firm K2, argued non-transparent practices were "pervasive" in media buying – a conclusion questioned by the 4A's.

Last month, the ANA – this time in partnership with analytics group Ebiquity – outlined several ways that brand custodians could become more active "stewards" of their spending, such as by appointing a Chief Media Officer.

In responding to the latter study, Nancy Hill, President/CEO of the 4A's, referred its members towards the "4A's Transparency Guiding Principles of Conduct" as the basis of any discussions.

"We have reviewed the recommendations in the Ebiquity Report issued last week and feel they are not all consistent with what many of you say your clients are asking for in their [master service agreements]," she said.

"We know you're having candid conversations with your clients and we continue to believe that your contractual negotiations are best left between you and your clients."

In his latest statement, Liodice suggested the 4A's effectively favoured "a preservation of the status quo", while its guidelines were "incomplete and not fully or adequately reflecting the best interests of marketers".

He added: "While we welcome a dialogue with the 4A's, we can only do so with their acknowledgment that a transparency problem of consequence exists in the US media marketplace.

"We ask that the 4A's publicly clarify whether they accept or reject the findings of the K2 report … Without agreement that there is a common problem to address and solve, it will be difficult to engage in focused and meaningful discussions."

Data sourced from ANA/4A's; additional content by Warc staff