The rebates debate: Are broken client–agency relationships to blame?

Stephen Whiteside

American media buyers stand accused of pocketing rebates, reselling inventory at a mark-up, and withholding such information from advertisers.

Each of these allegations, in turn, hint at much deeper problems with the traditional client–agency relationship.

The weight of the evidence against agencies was revealed in "An Independent Study of Media Transparency in the US Advertising Industry," a 58-page report commissioned and published by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the New York-based trade body representing 1,000 firms that together control $300 billion in advertising and marketing spend.

"For far too long, our industry has argued about the degree of transparency among media suppliers, agencies and marketers," Bob Liodice, the ANA's President/CEO, said on a conference call held to launch the study. "That disagreement significantly escalated over the last 15 months."