New Survey Suggests Trust Remains An Industry Issue Due To Rebates And Digital Fraud

Transparency Remains a Key Concern for One Third of Marketers

NEW YORK (September 25, 2019) — Media rebates are the top issue contributing to the breakdown of trust in the advertising ecosystem, according to a new survey from ANA (Association of National Advertisers) and its outside counsel, Reed Smith.

The study showed that 32 percent of respondents cited media rebates as “a big problem.”  Other issues cited as contributing to the breakdown of trust included invalid traffic and digital ad fraud, data confidentiality, and agencies reselling media to clients with an undisclosed markup – all cited as “a big problem” by 30 percent of respondents (see chart, below).

Respondents were asked to rate 18 issues on a scale of 1-10 on how the respective issues contributed to the breakdown of trust in the advertising ecosystem with a No. 1 ranking representing “no problem” and No. 10 representing “a big problem.”

“The 2016 ANA/K2 Intelligence report validated longstanding concerns about non-transparent rebate behavior, but it also illuminated marketers’ lack of discipline to keep their media contracts fresh and updated,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice.  “While significant progress has been made since then, this new survey indicates the persistence of those issues.  shows the problem is still top of mind among advertisers.  Going forward, ANA’s  Trust Consortium will work collaboratively with the industry to achieve even greater progress and more disciplined behavior.”

Additional issues of concern to respondents included:

  • Rebates for digital ad data
  • Lack of transparency into the cost components of the programmatic media supply chain
  • Data integrity issues (i.e., accuracy and relevance)
  • Walled garden limitations on measurement
  • Brand safety
  • Influencer fraud (i.e., fake followers, fake engagement stats).

The survey was conducted in August by the ANA’s Trust Consortium, which was launched in April of this year in partnership with Reed Smith to help address the issue of trust between marketers and the advertising ecosystem. The Trust Consortium consists of subject matter experts committed to working together to prioritize the trust issue and to emphasize transparency, integrity, and growth for the overall well-being of the industry.

The survey was conducted to identify areas for the Consortium to focus on going forward. There were 188 respondents.

“The survey’s results show the important role the Trust Consortium can play in restoring trust and growth through collaborative efforts throughout the supply chain,” said Douglas Wood, a partner with Reed Smith.  “It’s a call to open discussions and focus on what we can change and where we can’t agree, to understand one another’s concerns.  It won’t be simple but if we can begin open and honest discussions between brands, agencies, publishers, auditors and consultants, DSPs, SSPs, trading desks, and publishers, we can start to restore trust and contribute to growth.”

The Trust Consortium’s future plans include the creation of white papers on best practices and key issues, FAQs, templates, and industry standards for marketers, agencies, and suppliers. Its focus will cover both demand-side and supply-side platforms, including media buying agencies. 


A copy of the full report is attached.

The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) makes a difference for individuals, brands, and the industry by driving growth, advancing the interests of marketers, and promoting and protecting the well-being of the marketing community. Founded in 1910, the ANA provides leadership that advances marketing excellence and shapes the future of the industry. The ANA’s membership includes more than 1,600 companies and organizations with 20,000 brands that engage almost 100,000 industry professionals and collectively spend or support more than $400 billion in marketing and advertising annually. The membership is comprised of more than 1,100 client-side marketers and nonprofit organizations as well as more than 700 marketing solutions provider members, which include leading marketing data science and technology suppliers, ad agencies, law firms, consultants, and vendors. Further enriching the ecosystem is the work of the nonprofit ANA Educational Foundation (AEF), which has the mission of enhancing the understanding of advertising and marketing within the academic and marketing communities.



Reed Smith is a global relationship law firm with more than 1,700 lawyers in 29 offices throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States. Founded in 1877, Reed Smith is a dynamic international law firm dedicated to helping blue-chip clients move their business forward. Its long-standing relationships, international outlook, and collaborative structures make it a go-to partner for speedy resolution of complex disputes, transactions, and regulatory matters. Reed Smith’s lawyers provide litigation and other dispute-resolution services in multi-jurisdictional and high-stake matters, deliver regulatory counsel, and execute the full range of strategic domestic and cross-border transactions. Reed Smith is a preeminent advisor to industries including advertising, entertainment and media, financial services, life sciences, health care, shipping and transport, energy and natural resources, real estate, manufacturing and technology, and education.

John Wolfe
Director of Communications
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