BRUSSELS: Advertisers are demanding greater levels of transparency from agencies when it comes to media buying and understanding new digital trading tools, a study has found.

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), the trade body, and the organisers of the Festival of Media, an annual industry event, partnered to survey 70 major brand owners and executives from media agencies.

Many advertisers were "wary" of new forms of arbitrage being developed for digital platforms, as shown by the fact 84% agreed "agency trading desks are a threat to transparency". Some 91% of agencies took the opposite view.

"Advertisers want improved transparency both in existing areas of media buying and also in the new digital tools and platforms being established," said Stephan Loerke, managing director of the WFA.

"If we can resolve these issues then it will make it much easier for agencies and advertisers to work harmoniously together for mutual benefit."

Elsewhere, all of the clients polled and 91% of agencies concurred that advertisers "have the right" to know the actual costs charged by media owners to third parties.

Additionally, 55% of brand owners and 53% of media shops suggested that auditors monitoring expenditure in this area tended to "overstate" the problem of transparency.

Assessments of procurement departments, however, were more favourable, with 91% of goods and service providers believing they improved openness, and 64% of agencies adopted the same perspective.

More than three-quarters of advertisers asserted that media rebates constituted the biggest "stumbling block" to achieving total clarity in this area. Most clients also thought they should receive 100% of any rebate.

Data sourced from World Federation of Advertisers; additional content by Warc staff