An Independent Study of Media Transparency in the U.S. Advertising Industry

From October 20, 2015, through May 31, 2016, K2 Intelligence, on behalf of the ANA, conducted an independent study of media transparency issues in the U.S. advertising industry. K2 was selected to lead the fact-finding portion of the study after a request for proposal process initiated by the ANA on June 17, 2015.

Over the course of the study, K2 conducted 143 interviews with 150 individual sources, representing a cross-section of the U.S. media buying ecosystem. K2 kept the identities of all participating sources — and all the individuals and corporate entities named in their accounts — confidential from the ANA throughout the study.

Results of the study were delivered by K2 in a comprehensive report. Among the key findings:

  • Numerous non-transparent business practices, including cash rebates to media agencies, were found to be pervasive in the U.S. media ad buying ecosystem.
  • There were systemic elements to some of the non-transparent behavior. Specificaly, senior executives across the agency ecosystem were aware of, and mandated, some non-transparent business practices.
  • There was evidence of non-transparent practices across a wide range of media, including digital, print, out-of-home, and television
Association of National Advertisers
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