The Association of National Advertisers recently launched a probe of programmatic digital media buying—the latest in a long history of efforts by trade groups to figure out what marketers actually pay for when they buy ads. So far, such efforts have shown 50% to 70% of the money goes to agency and ad tech fees rather than publishers, but they’ve been short on details and haven’t changed things much.
It will be different this time, ANA CEO Bob Liodice predicts in this interview. For one thing, the ANA ended up naming investigative firm Kroll to the team, alongside consulting firm PwC and industry body TAG TrustNet.
Kroll’s involvement is reminiscent of K2 Intelligence’s investigation of media transparency shortfalls commissioned by the ANA in 2016. That report—rife with anonymous sources and blockbuster allegations—led to an investigation by the Justice Department, which got access to identities of the sources but has yet to get indictments.
This time, however, the goal isn’t to root out wrongdoing or prompt a federal probe, Liodice said on the most recent episode of the Marketer’s Brief podcast, though he is looking to Kroll to get more details than prior studies. The ANA is also breaking the effort into two parts to get a better read on the market, he said, looking at the open web this year and big “walled garden” social platforms next.