One of the advantages of attending industry events is the chance to stay atop of relevant topics while learning new topics, insights, and buzzwords from speakers and peers. This week, we were able to do just that as sponsors of the ANA Advertising Financial Management (ANA AFM) held in Hollywood, Florida.

The ANA AFM Conference is the event that brings together top client-side marketing procurement and finance professionals with agency CFOs and other key industry stakeholders interested in efficiencies, cost savings, return on investment, and delivering greater value to organizations. This makes it the perfect conference for advertisers to discuss some of the most pertinent topics in the industry, such as transparency. We discussed this in our preview post for this conference as the likely theme for the conference this year. So, did transparency reign supreme and what were the other takeaways?

Before getting into the 5 key themes from ANA AFM, we can answer the first part of the question, transparency was indeed the main theme of the conference. A major influence in media and marketing today, ‘transparency’ was embedded as an integral piece of every discussion. As a result, transparency unquestionably formed the bedrock of the conference, as advertisers were routinely the subject of presenters letting them know that, in general terms, agencies have not at all improved on delivering greater transparency.

As proud sponsors of ANA AFM for many years, FirmDecisions, an Ebiquity company, had a full team of attendees to meet and speak with advertisers during the conference. We spoke with Mark Bean, Client Services Director for FirmDecisions, to get his insights on the key takeaways from the 2018 conference.

While the ANA Media Transparency Initiative has helped make great strides in transparency across the industry, there was an overall feeling that there was much progress still to be made. The following takeaways give insight into how the industry is addressing advancements and new technologies in the effort to achieve greater transparency.

Key Takeaways from ANA AFM

1) Blockchains Effect on the Media & Advertising Industry

This new process is bringing greater efficiency through the entire transaction database for advertisers, agencies, and publishers. It is vital that all 3 parties start preparing for blockchain or risk being left behind.

Extreme changes should be expected in all business models as efficiencies are realized through pilot campaigns in the near future.

2) Agency Compensation

Advertisers are still not getting back their fair share with agencies relabelling what a rebate is called while also claiming confidentiality issues to avoid advertisers reclaiming their fair share.

Advertisers should consider paying fair compensation to their agencies with a trade-off being complete transparency across all non-client revenue at every level of agency holding companies and brands.

3) Programmatic Media

Advertisers desire and expect transparency in their programmatic models but, in practice, contradict themselves by continuing to sign up to non-disclosed/bundled models.

Non-working programmatic media has continued to maintain a high level of a programmatic buying due to lack of transparency in the medium. This has had a significant and negative effect on the true value the investment in programmatic should bring to advertisers.

There has been an improvement in ad fraud resolution of programmatic buys through smarter in-house agency set up by advertisers coupled with programmatic consultants being the go to resource to ensure safer websites.

4) Data privacy and Security

The theme here from presenters portrayed how even a minor data breach has the ability to be both very costly and devastating to an advertiser, even potentially corrupting their entire data base

With GDPR and new data regulations being implemented, the financial importance of why everyone needs to take data regulation changes very seriously has now become a global initiative across the media industry.

5) Accountability

Accountability was a naturally complementing theme for the conference as advertisers demanded greater transparency. However, it is not only agency leaders that need to stand up and be accountable with advertisers. Advertisers themselves need to ensure that they are pulling their own weight in contract negotiations when it comes to transparency in addition to ensuring internal accountability is a principle installed throughout their marketing team. By doing so, advertisers should realize a significantly greater amount of transparency.


With the lack of transparency still posing an issue in the industry, the time is clearly now for advertisers to take control of their advertising and marketing effectiveness. New technologies such as blockchain and the impending enforcement of the GDPR provide both new risks and opportunities to leading brands. By embracing these new technologies and regulations, companies can not only mitigate their risks, but also ensure that they are maximizing their potential.