Warning: your media agency is (probably) stealing from you

Buying Programmatic media? Your media agency is (probably) stealing from you.

Programmatic Display is the Wild West of the ad industry.

Back in 2014 the ISBA published a pretty damning report on media contracts but it still took a couple of years before the ANA Media Transparency Initiative detailed the commonplace practice of undisclosed media rebates.

Is anyone else wondering why media agencies have been silent on media markups and rebates? Or why the ANA report didn’t call any agencies out by name?

I can tell you why… it’s because they’re all doing it. They are all complicit in the biggest fraud of our generation. The ANA found that a lack of transparency was rife across every type of agency – large, small, independent or holding companies were all found to be operating below board, and in multiple media modes too.

It’s not really that surprising. It’s been something that media agencies have done since the beginning of time. In Programmatic it’s even easier with the ‘magic markup’ button – a setting which sits within DSPs that allows the agency to change their markup with a couple of clicks without the advertiser knowing. Client pushing you hard on fees? Up the markup. Need higher margins? Up the markup. Rinse and repeat until you hit triple digits…

Media Markups

The ISBA wants to “draw back the black curtain that currently veils automated trading”. Mediacom’s ex-CEO Jon Mandel stated that agencies routinely “recommend or implement media that is off-strategy or off-target if it works for their financial gain”. In simpler terms, agencies are routinely recommending media that is best for them, rather than their clients. How bad is that?! I think it’s even worse than the $7 billion spent on online ads that no-one saw in 2015.

At Brainlabs, if we get a rebate we pass it on to clients. We don’t mark up media and never will. We believe that this is not right – we are an agency, not a high street retailer. We believe in transparency in all our work.

On top of that, here are four additional ways in which we deliver value for clients:

Driven by Data

As a mathematical media agency we don’t just dismiss Display advertising as ‘branding’ and hide behind post-impression metrics. We get millions of data points coming through from the tags we put in your ads, so we can see where they’re being shown, how they’re working out and when people are engaging with them. We like to crunch these numbers and report back. We’ll look at how the websites perform, what kind of audience your ads are being shown to. Most importantly we’ll be able to pass along these findings to you, to back up our decisions and choices in running your account.


We automate rather than repeat

Once we’ve got these insights we don’t just leave them languishing in an email. We’ve built tech to feed these findings directly back into your work. Is your activity performing better at 4pm on a Saturday? We’ll automatically up the bids at this time so that your ads get greater exposure to capitalise on that increased conversion rate.

It’s not just about bid management. For normal agencies building and trafficking campaigns can take forever. We were too impatient for this so we built tools to automate most of it.


We educate rather than baffle you

We’re not interested in hiding behind a ‘complex eco-system’. We’re more interested in training you in what we do so you understand the value we deliver.

When we start out we’ll work with you to help you understand your DSP from your SSP (that’s Demand Side Platform and Supply Side Platform, just so you know). If you’re not our client, we run really awesome Programmatic training courses so that you can understand what your media agency is charging you for….and what kind of transparency you should have with them.



We let you own your data

Most advertisers have somehow got themselves into a situation where they don’t own their own first-party data. This is shocking and can be used by media agencies to hold clients to ransom if they ever try to leave. In our setup we make sure you own your own data – so that if anyone ever gets as good as us at this stuff you could go to them… unlikely!

Sign up for the future of media!

So if you’ve heard enough and you’re ready to sign up, please Contact Us today or email us – hello@brainlabsdigital.com!