U.S. Media Buying Probe May Ensnare Marketers

Ever since former Mediacom CEO, Jon Mandel, publicly alleged four years ago at a forum held by the Association of National Advertisers that media buying agencies were engaged in non-transparent behaviors in order to retain discounts and rebates that belonged to advertisers, investigations into such practices have not receded.

The U.S. Department of Justice investigation, which has been underway for nearly a year, just recently led to the subpoena of records from one major advertiser.

Until now, attention within the industry has focused on behaviors among media buying agencies, real or imagined, but today’s article in AdAge adds a cautionary warning to marketers:  some of you may want to lawyer up.

Why?

If investigators can prove any brand-side marketers approved of, encouraged or willfully ignored misconduct by their media agencies, they could be facing criminal charges. And someone on the agency side may strike a plea deal in exchange for implicating a client.

According to the ANA’s website, the purpose of its recently released whitepaper, Media Buying 2018 – Transparency at a Crossroads , co-developed with legal firm ReedSmith, is to “provide a historical perspective of the transparency issues and to outline the options that advertisers have to cooperate or not cooperate with the FBI.”

If you’re involved with media buying, either client or agency side, you may want to seek advice from your own counsel – both corporate and personal.

Bajkowski + Partners LLC is a leading consultancy providing services to marketing and procurement teams in the areas of agency relationship management, agency search, process audits, contract and SOW development and audits, and other marketing operations related areas. For more information, please visit our website.

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